The Impact of Weather On Blood Pressure
Does temperature affect blood pressure? Yes. Several medical studies have established that outside weather can affect blood pressure. For instance, blood pressure is higher in the winter, and in the summer, it is lower.
The inverse relationship between blood pressure and weather affects our health more than we realise. Such weather-related changes in blood pressure are especially a common phenomenon among elderly citizens.
Timely and appropriate preventive measures during cold and hot temperatures can help maintain blood pressure levels, thus reducing blood pressure and related risks like cardiovascular mortality.
Let’s discover how temperature affects blood pressure and what can we do to prevent it.
Hot Weather and Blood Pressure
The body sheds extra heat and strains the heart in response to scorching temperatures and sometimes prolonged sun exposure. As a result, the blood pressure decreases because of sweating and fluid loss.
- During summer, the body often tends to dehydrate. If a hypertensive patient becomes dehydrated due to extreme heat, they don’t sweat much. It causes the body temperature to rise, which may enhance cardiovascular activity.
- Under high temperatures, our body tends to circulate twice as much blood per minute. It leads to faster beating. Humidity and sweating also cause fluid loss, reducing blood volume and straining the heart.
- Lastly, heat causes cardiovascular risks due to extreme sweating and high surface blood circulation. It may induce chances of heart failure and stroke.
During the summer heat, hypertensive patients are at an increased risk of –
- Weakened or quickened pulse
- Inability to sweat or extreme sweating
- Muscle cramps or spasms
- Haemoconcentration (increase in red blood cells)
- Thrombosis (clotting of the blood).
1. Stay hydrated
Consuming foods and fruits with high water content, such as cucumber, watermelon, etc., and drinking plenty of water will help stay hydrated and maintain normal blood pressure during summers.
2. Avoid the mid-day sun
Summer heat can affect people of all age groups. Hypertensive patients should especially avoid going outdoors when the sun is at its peak, i.e. during mid-day hours, between noon and 4:00 p.m. It is the best way to prevent cardiac workload induced by humidity.
3. Exercise right
To minimise the risk of hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases, it is wise to exercise either indoors or during the early morning or evening hours. Drinking sufficient water, staying hydrated during a workout, and wearing breathable cotton clothes will further prevent the body from overexerting.
Cold Weather and Blood Pressure
Under cold temperatures, blood vessels temporarily become narrow. For the blood to flow through narrowed arteries and veins, more blood pressure is required, which increases during cold weather.
- Both systolic (the pressure in arteries when the heart beats) and diastolic (the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats) mean blood pressures are affected during winter.
- The cold weather is known to induce a surge in blood pressure, especially during the morning hours.
- In response to coping with the cold temperature outside, the body generates heat through food cravings and increased sugar and salt intake. The physical inactiveness is also greater in winter than in summer. In addition to increased calorie intake, it may lead to winter hypertension.
- There is an increased risk of cardiovascular incidents among hypertensive patients, especially during the cold morning hours. These may include stroke, sudden cardiac death, or acute myocardial infarction (blockage of blood flow to heart muscles).
- The risk of hypothermia is greater during the winter season. To maintain a stable body temperature in winter, the heart pumps harder. This may lead to hypothermia (a condition of heart muscle damage as the body’s internal temperature drops low).
Following preventive steps may help to reduce the adverse effects of blood pressure and weather
1. Avoid overexertion
Our heart pumps harder to maintain a normal body temperature. As a result, the heart is already overworking itself to compensate for the cold temperatures. Therefore, it is wise to avoid strenuous outdoor activities, especially during the freezing morning hours, which put more pressure on your heart.
2. Maintain a stable body temperature
Putting on warm clothes like a coat, gloves, a muffler, and a cap before leaving the house will protect the body against hypothermia.
You may wear a few layers that you can take off if it gets too warm, as overheating the body may cause an abrupt drop in blood pressure.
3. Take care against the flu
During the winter season, seasonal flu is common. However, the flu fever may trigger blood pressure levels and related cardiovascular diseases among hypertensive patients. Flu may also cause dehydration, resulting in faster heartbeats to maintain steady blood pressure.
Hypertensive patients should not ignore blood pressure symptoms, especially during the winter and summer. It is equally important to regularly monitor BP and physician consultation in case of seasonal changes in the BP levels. Lastly, taking essential precautions to fight the adverse seasonal effects of blood pressure and weather will keep BP problems at bay. Visit BPinControl for such informative articles.