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Preventing Weather Related Deaths

According to the National Weather Service, there were 10 weather related deaths reported in Pennsylvania last year.

Because winter is far from over I spoke with a doctor today who gave me tips on how we can protect ourselves in future intense weather conditions.

This is Doctor David Burwell he says inclement weather whether its a snowstorm or a heatwave can be very dangerous and even deadly.

“If we stay out in those temperatures for too long, it can cause significant stress to our bodies and actually cause us to have significant exertion or over exertion that can lead to heart events for people who have heart disease or problems or may have them and not be aware of them.”

And exposing ourselves to inclement weather can also expose us to adverse health conditions and possibly death. In extreme cold weather, for example, theres a risk of hypothermia where in extreme heat

“Theres such things as heat exhaustion and also it’s a temperature related increase that’s also not good for the brain and also not good for the cardiovascular system as well.”

On Christmas Day Cambria County reported the fifth weather related death this year when a 69-year-old man died after cleaning snow off his vehicle. The Cambria County Coroner determined the cause of death as cold weather induced Cardiac Dysrythmia.

“Cardiac Disrythmia is whenever the heart goes into an abnormal rhythm that means that it does not pump blood during that rhythm or does not pump adequate blood during that rhythm. And its usually due to certain type of abnormalities of the heart or most likely coronary artery disease”

So what causes cold weather induced Cardiac Dysrythmia?

“When someone goes out in an extreme temperature and that exertion and stress on the heart causes it to go into an abnormal where it doesn’t adequately pump blood throughout the body.”

Doctor Burwell says this could happen in the hottest of temperatures as well, but there are ways we can prevent situations like this to occur.

“If you can, avoid it. Right? If you can, if you do not need to shovel your driveway today, avoid it.”

An important note Dr. Burwell adds is to always listen to your body.

I contacted other Coroner offices today in our viewing area to see if they had any weather-related deaths reported this year and so far I only heard back from the Somerset County Coroner who says they have *not* reported any weather-related deaths so far this year.

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