Hypertension in Winter : Why people are at the risk of high blood pressure

Hypertension in Winter: Why people are at the risk of high blood pressure

 

A review article by

Dr. Somedatta Ghosh (Pal)

In India, people mostly enjoy winter compared to summer. They like the downfall of temperature, foggy mornings, shiny noon time and chilly evenings. They can relish their night sleep under cozy blanket. In other seasons like summer and rainy seasons rural Indians get very less scope for comfort.

However failing to take proper care of health in winter can cause various types of illness. The most common of them are cold, flu, bronchitis, pneumonia, dry/itchy skin etc. The low temperature can cause some other health issues like depression, hypertension etc and there is very less awareness among people about them.

 

Around 30% higher incidences of stroke, pulmonary embolism, and heart disease are found during winter.

Arterial blood pressure is influenced by seasonal temperature change and it is true for everyone: children, adult and old people whether they are hypertensive or normotensive. In winter both systolic and diastolic blood pressure (BP) tend to increase.

Probable Reasons for High BP in Winter

 

  • Vasoconstriction: In winter blood vessels shrink to some extent as a preventive mechanism by the body to conserve heat. This is called vasoconstriction and it increases the blood pressure. The heart needs to exert more force to pump bloods throughout the veins. It can be dangerous for patients whose coronary circulation is already impaired.
  • Increase in Blood Volume: In winter, people sweat less. Thus retention of more fluid inside the arteries helps to increase the BP.
  • Increase in Sodium Concentration in Blood: Sweating helps to excrete sodium from the blood. Thus in winter less sweating helps to increase sodium concentration in blood and BP increases.
  • Life-Style: Due to the chill in the environment, aged people mostly do not want to go for daily walking, exercise etc. On the other hand they prefer to eat fat-laden comfort foods. All these unhealthy habits increase the cholesterol level in the blood and as well as blood pressure.

Risks Associated With High BP

 

  • Cardiovascular Problems: A sudden increase in blood pressure may increase the chance of angina, stroke and heart attack in winter. In Northern India, after mid-December temperature suddenly drops to 2-3℃. Thus elderly hypertensive people in this area should be under care in winter.
  • Other Health Problems: High BP may affect kidneys and eyes.

 

Preventive Steps to Avoid BP-Related Complications

Small preventive measures play an important role in avoiding big disasters like stroke, heart attack etc. To avoid BP fluctuations due to temperature drop, patients should follow:

  • BP Monitoring at Home: Using portable devices BP should be monitored regularly for hypertensive patients. Consult your physician immediately if BP crosses the desired value. Observe and track in INIGIMA Digital Screening.
  • Maintain Proper Body Temperature: Keep yourself warm by wearing proper winter wear. Try to maintain a comfortable temperature inside your house.
  • Avoid going outside before sunrise and after sunset.
  • Diet: Try to avoid excess sugar and salt, since both are responsible for high BP. Over-eating is also not advisable to avoid weight gain. Winter diet must contain vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy foods – and moderate amounts of whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts.
  • Avoiding Alcohol and Caffeine: They can cause the body to lose heat more rapidly.

Summary

Since arteries and blood vessels constrict in cold temperatures. As a result, greater force is required to move the blood throughout the body. The blood pressure rises as a result.

Abrupt variations in the weather, such as humidity, air pressure, cloud cover, or wind, can also have an impact on blood pressure. People over 65 are more likely to experience variations in blood pressure caused by the weather. Furthermore, gaining weight during the winter and not exercising can also cause a surge in blood pressure.

If you observe any variations in the blood pressure level monitor over the winter, INIGIMA Digital Screening can help you see the changes and acquire reliable information, which will assist the doctor in recommending the best course of action for medication and treatment.

 

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References:

 

  1. Fares A. Winter Hypertension: Potential mechanisms. Int J Health Sci (Qassim). 2013 Jun;7(2):210-9.
  2. Fares A. Winter cardiovascular diseases phenomenon. N Am J Med Sci. 2013 Apr;5(4):266-79.
  3. Rintamäki H. Human responses to cold. Alaska Med. 2007;49(2 Suppl):29-31.
  4. Jansen PM, Leineweber MJ, Thien T. The effect of a change in ambient temperature on blood pressure in normotensives. J Hum Hypertens. 2001 Feb;15(2):113-7.

 

 

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