Cold weather brings increased risks of heart attack and stroke, the local NHS has warned.
The NHS in Cheshire and Merseyside is reminding people to look after themselves and others during winter with the colder weather proven to cause severe health problems.
It explains some people are more vulnerable to becoming poorly in the colder months including those with long term conditions like diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
These people are more vulnerable to winter illnesses like coughs and colds which can quickly turn into more worrying health conditions.
The NHS suggests it’s important to nip common health complaints in the bud before they develop into something more serious and potentially end up needing treatment in hospital.
Prof Keith Willet, NHS England’s national director for acute care, said: “What the public are unaware of is the immediate knock on effect of the cold weather.
“Patients who have pre-existing conditions may not be aware that they are most at risk of falling ill in the days after temperatures drop.
“This also adds pressure on already busy A&E departments and can be avoided by taking simple steps to keep well.
“Those with pre-existing heart and lung conditions and particularly the elderly should take care to keep their homes properly heated and get their flu jabs.”
Dr Kieran Murphy, medical director for NHS England in Cheshire and Merseyside, added: “It’s surprising how quickly something like a cough or cold can turn into a serious health condition, especially for people who are vulnerable to becoming ill over the winter months.
“If you’re in an at-risk group, it’s really important to have your flu jab. Anyone in this group is more likely to suffer potentially serious complications from flu and the vaccine offers the best protection.”
If you’re not very mobile, are 65 or over, or have a health condition, such as heart or lung disease, the NHS suggests you should heat your home to at least 18C (65F) if you can to help keep warm and well.
For more advice on staying well this winter, visit the stay well website at www.nhs.uk/staywell.