The NHS in North East and North Cumbria is warning residents
with long term conditions, like asthma and heart disease, of the
added risk to their health during and after winter weather
Heart attacks increase almost immediately after a cold
snap accounting for two-in-five winter excess deaths (the number of
people who die during winter months compared to non-winter), and
the same proportion of NHS excess winter admissions.
Hospitals also see a rise in the admission of stroke patients
five days after the cold weather begins and peak respiratory
admissions go up 12 days after the temperature drops.
The NHS is advising those most vulnerable to take sensible
precautions to ensure they minimise the after-effects of extreme
cold weather. The elderly are advised to keep warm, both indoors
and out, and to heat their homes to at least 18 degrees
There is still time to get the flu jab to help avoid unnecessary
NHS England's Medical Director for Cumbria and the North East,
Professor Chris Gray, said: "It is important to be mindful of the
immediate knock-on effect of the cold weather. Patients who have
pre-existing conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease (COPD), may not be aware that they are most at risk of
falling ill in the days after temperatures drop.
"Freezing temperatures bring with them increased risk of
heart attack and stroke in the days immediately following a cold
snap. This also adds pressure on already busy A&E departments
and can be avoided by taking simple steps to keep well.
"You can help protect yourself against flu by getting the
jab and ensuring your home is properly heated. The vaccine is the
best defence we have against the spread of flu and is free for
people with long-term conditions such as heart, kidney or liver
disease. While we are reaching the end of the vaccine season, there
is still supply available and it isn't too late to get
"Pharmacists are fully qualified to give advice on the
best course of action for many ailments, and should be seen as soon
as anyone feels unwell."
More information about how the public can stay healthy during
winter can be found on NHS Choices website.
The latest Public health England (PHE) report shows that
seasonal flu activity levels have continued to increase across the
UK. Over the last week there has been an 11% increase in the flu
hospitalisation rate, a 42% increase in the GP consultation rate
with flu like illness compared to the previous week (when practices
were open for four days), and an 8% reduction in the flu intensive
care admission rate.
The report also shows that in weeks 50 2017 to week 2 of 2018,
statistically significant excess mortality from all causes is now
being observed in over 65s in England although this currently
remains lower than the excess mortality observed last season and in
2014 to 2015.
According to PHE, these excess deaths cannot with certainty be
attributed to specific causes but flu and the very cold weather
affecting areas of the country since Christmas are likely to be
The 'Catch It, Bin It, Kill It' campaign running across digital,
radio and press advertising platforms advises how to protect
against and reduce the spread of the virus by practising good
respiratory hand hygiene.
If you care for children, the
child health app is free
to download and offers a wealth of advice and support.
The app is part of the NHS awareness and education 'plasticine
people' campaign in Cumbria and the North East, to help influence
the decisions people make about which health service to use and to
improve patient flow and experience across the health system in the
'The treatment I have received from all the staff has been
excellent and could you extend my thanks to them all. A very
thankful and relieved patient'.
Patient, Dermatology Outpatients Department, University Hospital
of North Durham