In most parts of India, where pleasant weather is fleeting, winter is a welcome change. While you are having a great time huddling together and sipping on warm beverages, your body is struggling to maintain homeostasis, especially since winter comes with its share of health problems. And we aren’t just talking common cold and sore throat. The cold climate can also increase your risk of high blood pressure or hypertension.
Hypertension is a condition where the blood pressure on the arteries is higher than necessary. Dr Farah Ingale, Internal Medicine, Hiranandani Hospital Vashi-A Fortis Network Hospital says, “A high BP can cause severe afflictions, ranging from heart and kidney failure to damaged arteries and eyes.” A faulty, high-sodium diet, smoking and alcohol consumption usually worsen hypertension. “But there is one other cause of Hypertension that is overlooked — cold climate,” says Dr Ingale. Weather Change Sickness: How Sudden Temperature Change Affects Our Health.
How Does Winter Cause High BP?
“Winter excites not just the mind but also the body, specifically the blood pressure” quips the doctor. Research suggests that cooler temperatures can cause the BP to rise, increase the risks for strokes and heart attacks. 4 Things You Should Eat To Stay Healthy In The Cold Months.
Faster the weather change, higher your risk of hypertension. “When the weather suddenly cools down, our veins shrink. Narrow veins mean that more pressure is required to push the blood through the body. This could result in increased pressure on the veins,” says Dr Ingale.
How To Take Care of Your BP During Winter
While winters do make matters worse for people who already have high BP, people whose blood pressure is in the normal range are also at risk. The elderly may be specifically susceptible to temperature problems during winters. Here’s what you should do to reduce your risk.
Check Your Salt Intake: The first rule is to limit your intake of salt. “Consume a diet rich in nutrients, which will help lower the pressure. Avoid fats and sugar. Try consuming whole fruits and juices,” says the doctor.
Stay Warm: Get your woollies out of the cupboard. Winter’s here! “By wearing an extra layer of clothing like thermals, your veins will get relaxed, normalising the blood pressure,” says Dr Ingale. So stay warm with scarves, caps, gloves, etc.
Monitor Your Blood Pressure: “Check your BP regularly,” says Dr Ingale. “An easy First and foremost, check your BP regularly. An easy test will indicate if you are suffering from Hypertension already or not. With this information, it will be easier to trudge through during winter.” Expert Advise On How to Stay Fit During Cold Weather.
No Smoking: Staying away from tobacco and cigarettes is good throughout the year, but especially more during the winter. “Smoking is already a cause for hypertension. And with winter, your risk for high BP goes up if you are a smoker,” points out Dr Ingale.
No Drinking: It’s tempting to drink during the winter, especially since you have so many Christmas and New Year’s parties to attend. But Dr Ingale warns against too much alcohol: “It may soothe your throat and warm-up your body for a little while during the winter, but it does cause Hypertension. Try to avoid alcohol as much as possible; instead choose hot beverages like Tea, Coffee, etc.”
Controlled Physical Activity: Stay fit this winter. A healthy amount of exercise keeps your heart healthy. “But avoid venturing out early. Go out when it’s a little warmer,” advises Dr Ingale.