Blood Pressure rises in Winter
According to a new study
linking cooler temperatures with higher blood pressure. Falling temperatures in winter may cause an
unhealthy rise in high blood pressure in elderly people.
We have seen that seasonal
variations in blood pressure have been noted for many years, but only few studies have looked at
these temperature-related effects in one of the most at-risk populations i.e the elder
Now a large study from France
has shown that blood pressure in elderly people varies significantly in winter season, with
rates of high blood pressure readings rising from 23.8% in summer to 33.4% in winter. This Blood
pressure increase has been seen in both the systolic (top) and diastolic (bottom)
Researcher Annick Alperovitch,
MD, of the Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale, in Paris, and colleagues
write in the Archives of Internal Medicine "Elderly persons may be particularly susceptible to
temperature-related variations in blood pressure,". Mechanisms that could explain the
association between blood pressure and temperature remain unclear.
"Possible explanations of the
cold weather effect include activation of the sympathetic nervous system and release of the
hormone catecholamine" researchers say, which may increase blood pressure by speeding the heart
rate and decreasing the responsiveness of blood vessels.
Seasonal Variation in High Blood Pressure
In this study, researchers observed seasonal variation in blood
pressure among 8,801 adults over the age of 65 in France over 2 years.This study results showed
both systolic and diastolic blood pressures varied with the weather.
Researchers found that the
average systolic blood pressure was 5 points higher in winter than in summer. They also noted
that the temperature-related effects on high blood pressure were greatest among those 80 and or
greater than 80s.
The authors of this study
write"Although our study does not demonstrate a causal link between blood pressure and external
temperature, the observed relationship nevertheless has potentially important consequences for
blood pressure management in the elderly,"
Researchers also say the
findings may explain the well known seasonal variations in illness and death from stroke, blood
vessel rupture, or aneurysm. They mentioned "Because the risk of stroke or aneurysmal rupture is
highest in the elderly, improved protection against these diseases by close monitoring of blood
pressure and antihypertensive medication when outdoor temperature is very low could be