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Cardiovascular Institute

Feeling the Pressure

Feeling the Pressure

Dressing for the weather is the first defense against the dangers of cold temperatures, but when the thermometer drops, keeping an eye on blood pressure is just as important.

Blood pressure is affected by changes in the weather. In the winter, exposure to colder temperatures causes blood vessels to constrict, requiring an increase in blood pressure to maintain adequate circulation. Other seasonal changes, such as inactivity and weight gain during the colder months, can also contribute to elevated blood pressure.

Your Best Defense
Activity raises blood pressure levels, so avoiding strenuous exertion outdoors—from shoveling snow or walking long distances—is recommended when temperatures drop. Exercise safely by walking in the mall or working out at your local fitness club. “People with cardiovascular disease should bundle up to avoid the negative impact of temperatures lower than 40 degrees Fahrenheit on their blood pressure levels,” says Donal Warde, MD, FACC, FCCP, cardiologist at Allegheny General Hospital. “Individuals living with coronary artery disease are encouraged to talk with their primary healthcare provider about any wintertime precautions or changes in blood pressure medication that might be needed.”

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