January 7, 2021
3 min. read

High Blood Pressure and Cold Weather: The Risk Factor You Might Not Realize

Medly

Interestingly enough, seasonal changes can impact our blood pressure: Blood pressure is generally higher in the winter and lower in the summer. In the winter, low temperatures will cause your blood vessels to narrow—which increases blood pressure because more pressure is needed to force blood through your narrowed veins and arteries. That means if you struggle with or at risk for high blood pressure, cold weather may have an impact—and it’s a good idea to be conscientious of dropping temps in the winter.

Consulting with your provider is an important first step to understanding how this might impact you. But in the meantime, read below to learn more about hypertension and potential treatment that can help regulate high blood pressure all year long.

First, a primer on hypertension

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, affects nearly half of American adults. Because there are so few symptoms associated with this condition, many people living with high blood pressure do not take their medications properly, if they take medication at all.

Proper medication use is important for those living with hypertension, because if untreated, it can put you at greater risk for heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. If you have questions or concerns about your blood pressure, reach out to your pharmacists today. They can screen and monitor your blood pressure, as well as provide counselling about the importance of lifestyle management and medication adherence.

Lifestyle changes and hypertension

In addition to medication, lifestyle interventions are critical to prevent hypertension. You can help control and regulate your blood pressure by eating a heart-healthy diet, reducing sodium intake, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight—that’s true 24/7/365.

It will also help your blood pressure if you quit smoking and limit the amount of alcohol you drink. You may also want to find ways to manage your stress—things like yoga, meditation, and slow, deep, breathing can help. You may even consider monitoring your blood pressure at home for convenience, especially if you are pregnant – but talk with your provider first.

lifestyle

Diuretics

Diuretics, also known as water pills, are medications that act on your kidneys in order to help increase the amount of water and salt, or sodium, and potassium expelled from the body as urine. By reducing the body’s blood volume, a diuretic can help lower your blood pressure.

These medications are often the first, but not the only, choice in high blood pressure medications. Chlorthalidone, Hydrochlorothiazide (Microzide), and Indapamide are some examples of diuretic medications.

Beta blockers

Beta blockers work by opening your blood vessels and reducing the workload on your heart, causing your heart to beat slower and with less force.. Beta Blockers are usually prescribed in conjunction with other blood pressure medications. Common beta blockers include Acebutolol (Sectral), Atenolol (Tenormin), Nebivolol (Bystolic), Metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL) and others.

Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors

Ace inhibitors help relax blood vessels by blocking the formation of a natural chemical that narrows blood vessels. Examples include Lisinopril (Zestril, Prinivil), Benazepril (Lotensin), Enalapril (Vasotec), and Ramipril (Altace).

blood pressure check

Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs)

Similar to ACE inhibitors, these medications block a natural chemical that narrows blood vessels. Unlike ACE inhibitors, however, ARBs block the action, not the formation, of that natural chemical, thereby helping to relax the body’s blood vessels. ARBs include Candesartan (Atacand), Losartan (Cozaar), Valsartan (Diovan) , and Azilsartan (Edarbi).

Calcium channel blockers

Calcium channel blockers work by relaxing the muscles of your blood vessels, and some can even slow your heart rate. Note that grapefruit juice can interact with some calcium channel blockers, which can increase blood levels of the medication and put you at higher risk of side effects. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you’re concerned about interactions.

Examples of calcium channel blockers include Amlodipine (Norvasc), Verapamil (Calan, Calan SR) and Diltiazem (Cardizem, Cardizem CD, Cardizem XT).

As always, check with your provider to learn more about high blood pressure and cold weather and how it might affect you.

References:

Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research

 

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