Weather-related health incidents are steady, Oakwood says

The four hospitals of Oakwood in Dearborn, Taylor, Trenton and Wayne, Michigan – plus Oakwood’s emergency room in Canton – are still responding to the health impacts of the extreme cold and frigid temperatures this week. Generally, there has not been an increase of cold-related injuries; we think people are playing it safe and staying indoors.

Emergency— Emergency professionals are seeing a steady number of patients with lung disease and COPD. The severe weather exacerbates underlying heart disease and difficulty breathing. When outside, individuals should protect their face and be sure to breathe through a scarf. If you have underlying heart disease, stay inside. Also continuing to see increased cases of the flu.

Cardiac Care – No change from earlier reports. Oakwood Healthcare physicians are continuing to see patients who experienced chest pain symptoms due to overexertion while outdoors.

Critical Care –Critical care professional have not seen an increase in trauma victims related to motor vehicle accidents caused by black ice and slick roads, but are treating and releasing patients who have suffered slip-and-fall injuries or minor, fender-bender motor vehicle accidents.

Oakwood physicians remind individuals to: 
*  Stay indoors if possible 
* Remember to use proper hand hygiene and take time to get the flu vaccine if your doctor prescribes it. 
* When shoveling snow do a little bit at a time, perhaps every inch or so instead of waiting until the snow accumulates. 
* You are not necessarily safe just because you use a snow blower. It is still strenuous work clearing snow with a snow blower. Use the same precautions when shoveling - take breaks often and listen to your body's cues

It is also important to take general precautions to protect your heart in extreme cold weather, said Oakwood Dr. Arthur Riba, MD, FACC.

"The extreme cold temperatures can affect your heart adversely, especially if you have cardiovascular disease or are deconditioned," he said, adding that the elderly or people with chronic conditions like diabetes should be particularly careful. Cold weather causes blood vessels to constrict, and increases both the blood pressure and heart rate, thereby producing a strain on the heart. In addition, low temperatures cause an increase in activation of the platelets - the sticky components of the blood - and viscosity of blood, which promotes the formation of thrombosis and clot formation.

"People with heart disease or those at risk (Diabetes, hypertension, smoking, high cholesterol) should avoid exposure to cold weather and especially over exertion or heavy lifting such as shoveling snow," said Riba. "If one needs to venture out in extremely cold weather, avoid overexertion and keep warm by wearing layers of clothes which trap warm air between the layers."

All four Oakwood hospitals operate award-winning emergency, critical care and cardiac care units, which are seeing the effects of the weather. Here’s where to find care in your community:
Oakwood urgent care – DearbornSouthgate
Oakwood emergency care – Canton, DearbornTaylor, Trenton, Wayne