Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Hypothermia in the elderly: scope for prevention.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987; 295 doi: (Published 15 August 1987) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987;295:419
  1. C J Otty,
  2. M O Roland


    Concern is growing about the number of elderly people dying of hypothermia. A register was compiled of patients over 75 on a general practitioner's list who were identified from their medical records as being at risk of hypothermia, having two or more established risk factors. Twenty four patients from this register were visited early in winter by a doctor to discuss how hypothermia could be prevented. They were then revisited during very cold weather to see whether they had made any changes. Several improvements to heating arrangements were noted, but the median temperature in the bedrooms of houses with no central heating was 10 degrees C below the World Health Organisation's recommended temperature. In addition, eight patients were not visited daily. Even with media publicity and visits from carers and a doctor, 17 of the 24 elderly people studied continued to live in an environment in which they were at risk of developing hypothermia.