As Kashmir Valley is reeling under an intense cold wave with temperatures dipping below freezing point, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Sunday warned that chill of winter increases the risk of high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.“Cold weather hikes blood pressure which increases the risk of fatal heart attacks and strokes,” said DAK President Dr Nisar ul Hassan.“Various studies have shown falling temperatures to cause rise in blood pressure,” he said.Quoting a large study from France, Dr Nisar said rates of high blood pressure rose from 23.8 percent in summer to 33.4 percent in winter.“Blood pressure increases were seen in both the systolic (top) and diastolic (bottom) numbers,” he said adding that “the spike was seen in hypertensive as well as normotensive subjects.”“One-degree centigrade decrease in temperature was associated with rise of 1.3 mm Hg in systolic and 0.6 mm Hg in diastolic blood pressure,” Dr Nisar quoted another study.He said frigid temperatures constrict blood vessels which increase blood pressure because more pressure is needed to force blood through narrowed vessels.
“Lack of sunlight during winter reduces vitamin D levels which increases blood pressure,” he added.He further said people are sedentary in winter, staying inside and eating more that causes weight gain which contributes to hypertension.“While we can’t change the weather, we can take precautions to manage our blood pressure in winter. Keep yourself warm to prevent from the cold temperature. If you move out, dress in layers, wear a hat, gloves and scarf. Avoid going in chill for a walk and move your workout inside. Reduce your salt intake and take diet rich in vegetables and fruits. And, don’t forget to take your vitamin D,” advised Dr Nisar.“Far too many people don’t know that their blood pressure is high. We need to make sure that people know their number,” he said.“Because hypertension is an asymptomatic disease people don’t manage it, they turn up years later with kidneys gone and their eyes are bad,” said Dr Nisar.