Doctor warns about cold weather dangers for heart patients

CLEVELAND -- As temperatures take another dive one doctor is warning about the dangerous and deadly conditions people with already fragile hearts can face in the cold.

"It can place enough duress on an already sick person that can lead to perhaps a tragic event," said Dr. Daniel Cantillon, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic.

According to an Akron police report, a 64-year-old man was found frozen to death on his front porch Tuesday by a woman who works for Mobile Meals Inc.

The Summit County Medical Examiner's Office says it marks the first cold weather related death in the county. There is a risk for additional tragedy as long as temperatures continue to hover near the single digits.

"I've done lost everything all in a matter of a week," said a tearful Amber Carte. "I lost my house, my husband, my kids lost their father."

Carte says she was not married but felt it just the same and was deeply in love with her longtime boyfriend, 38-year-old James Dorsey. She tells FOX 8 he died of an apparent heart attack after being outside for about 15 minutes feeding their dogs. Carte says Dorsey had a heart attack last year and believes the frigid air contributed to his early death.

The couple and their children were initially featured on FOX 8 Monday after they lost all their belongings in a Friday house fire on McBride Avenue in Cleveland.

"Just being out in that cold is probably what killed him," said Carte. "...I just feel really bad for my kids, you know? They are so little. They are not going to know who their dad is now."

Dorsey leaves behind three children under seven years old including a one-month-old baby. While an official cause of death has not been determined, Carte is not alone in recognizing how lethal the cold can be for people with heart conditions.

"It's that wind chill that steals away the insulating warm air that goes around our bodies," said Cantillon. "So that can be dangerous even beyond what the thermomenter says is the temperature."

The American Heart Association recommends wearing layers of clothing, and a hat or a head scarf to prevent heat loss often stolen by cooler high winds.

"Stay inside if you have heart problems," said Carte. "...He was only 38 years old and this proves it -- your next breath is not promised to you."

Carte created a GoFundMe account for those who wish to donate.