Sudden death caused by a drop in temperature can strike down healthy young people and the elderly alike, according toWang Shih-hao (王士豪), an attending physician of emergency medicine at Taipei Medical University Hospital.
The nation has been hit by a series of cold fronts in recent weeks and the sudden drops in temperature meant that people who are not wearing warm clothing could fall ill or even die, Wang said, adding the hospital had seen five sudden deaths in two days recently as the result of the cold weather.
The physician said that sudden cardiac arrest is most likely to occur in the winter, especially during the period between Christmas and the Lunar New Year, with most cases occurring in the morning and at nightfall.
Sudden changes in temperature can cause vasoconstriction — constriction of the blood vessels — and rupture of the coronary atherosclerotic plaques, which could result in acute myocardial infarction, cardiac dysrhythmia, cerebral hemorrhage or death, he said.
He recommended wearing at least three layers of clothing to guard against the cold.
“The layer worn on the skin functions as a base layer, the middle layer should be fluffy, for example a down garment or a polyester sweatshirt, to trap air and warmth, while the outer layer helps you insulate the body from the cold, and is ideally made of waterproof and breathable fabric like Gore-Tex,” Wang said.
The technique is convenient because it is easy to add or take off a layer, which is ideal in an environment prone to sudden weather changes, Wang said.
He added that those who have had a stroke, cardiovascular problems or hypertension should pay extra attention to changes in their blood pressure.