Heart disease, weather triggers and the MediClim Index
That the science and practice of public health is a valuable endeavour is based on the understanding that small changes in individual behaviour bring about huge changes in population well being.
Here is an example: In 1996 figures for Canada: if everyone had not gone to their doctor just ONCE, they would have saved the health service the equivalent of what the Canadian federal government spent on medical research that year.
Now it's a no brainer that extreme weather conditions can produce terrible results... look at the deaths in Europe during the last heat wave, and lesser, but equally terrible stats for Chicago during a prolonged spell of hot weather. Most of these deaths were due to cardiovascular problems...heart and blood vessel disease. Old, or sick people developed heart failure or had heart attacks and many of them died.
In similar vein... After snow storms Canadians with heart disease are advised NOT to shovel snow because this is one activity that may very well cause death. The combination of exertion and inclement weather can be lethal.
Extreme heat and extreme cold... but what about the weather changes in between? Biometeorologists (researchers both medical and non medical who are interested in the effects of the weather on human health) have learnt that small changes in weather can trigger heart problems.
Years of fact finding and correlation have shown that particular weather patterns can destabilize a heart patient's condition. They don't always, of course, but careful analysis suggests they often may do.
The question is how to evaluate the changes in weather, to identify the best way to predict when it will affect someone. It turns out that synoptic weather analysis, looking at several different weather parameters at the same time, is the best way to do so. The MediClim Index (R) is the first synoptic weather index to be offered for personal use.
We will warn heart disease patients when the next day's weather could very well upset their condition. Our email alerts will recommend that the recipient follow their doctor's advice as closely as possible. Forewarned is forearmed, as the saying goes.