Here’s good motivation to go ahead and book that holiday somewhere warm: A new Scottish study finds that cold, rainy weather can raise your blood pressure.
Researchers from Glasgow University say that blood pressure varies with temperature, since blood vessels near the surface can narrow in cold weather to conserve heat, which increases blood pressure. Fluctuations in blood presssure can put added stress on your body and increase your risk for heart problems, the researchers said.
The study involved assessing over 169,000 blood pressure measurements in 16,010 patients who attended the Glasgow Blood Pressure Clinic between 1970 and 2011. Each patient’s blood pressure measured at every clinic visit was mapped to prevailing weather conditions in the area on that day and the response of blood pressure to weather determined.
Data showed half of the patients were sensitive to drops in temperature, such as those that occur between summer and winter. A drop of around 10 degrees Celsius led to an increase in blood pressure of between 3mm and 6mm of mercury. While that may not seem like much, "every millimeter counts," said lead researcher Sandosh Padmanabhan, in terms of increased risk for heart attacks and strokes.
The team found that on average the person's blood pressure drops 2 percent each year if weather is similar on the two clinic visits. However, if the temperature between consecutive visits fell from the highest quartile to the lowest quartile, then the patients’ blood pressure rose by 2.1 percent. Lack of sunshine and rain had similar effects, increasing blood pressure as well.