Frigid Weather Warning for Heart, Lungs - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Frigid Weather Warning for Heart, Lungs

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This frigid weather isn't just a bother to stay warm, but it can also affect your health. This frigid weather isn't just a bother to stay warm, but it can also affect your health.

KENNEWICK, WA - This frigid weather isn't just a bother to stay warm, but it can also affect your health. This deep chill could send you straight to the ER if you don't take precautions.

Health care specialists say you need to be aware of how these colder temperatures can put extra stress on your heart and lungs.

Some people are at higher risk than others, but the clear message here is you need to bundle up!

"Just as water thickens and turns to ice, our blood does tend to thicken a little bit in the cold weather, which just causes a little increased work," said Dr. Brent Crabtree, Kadlec ER.

Heart health takes a hit from the cold, increasing your blood pressure and heart rate.

People with heart problems need to take extra care to stay warm or out of the elements.

People with lung issues like asthma, bronchitis or chronic smokers are at risk too. The cold air constricts the airways.

"Wear a scarf that would cover their mouth as well as their nose so they can warm the air slightly as it comes into their airways," Crabtree said.

And be sure to check on your elders. Their bodies can't cut it in the cold as well as younger people.

"We check on them pretty frequently to make sure they have appropriate clothing on. Some people might not realize you can't wear a short sleeve shirt right now because it's too cold," said Phyllis Bertholet, Canyon Lakes Manor retirement home nurse.

If they do have to go outside, make sure the grounds aren't slick and they safely make it where they need to go or it could be a long recovery.

"They are at more risk for falls and they're at more risk for fractures from falls. They don't heal and recover as quickly as a younger person would," Bertholet said.

Doctors tell me if you do have a heart or lung condition, don't exert too much energy and risk the negative health effects.

So you've got an excuse now to get out of shoveling the walkway.

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