You must have seen people struggling to keep their health in place during the winter season. Especially patients with hypertension, arthritis, etc. find it hard to cope with the problems. The main reason behind this is believed to be winter lifestyle changes. Due to the cold outside, most of us like to stay indoors which restricts our physical activeness. In addition to this, food choices are also affected wherein it is seen that the consumption of salt and sugar increases in winter. All of these factors affect our general health. In an effort to retain heat and maintain body temperature, blood flow is restricted and this causes a rise in blood pressure. Let us tell you more about winter hypertension that Dr. S.S. Sibia, Cardiologist, Director & Consultant at Sibia Medical Centre, Ludhiana told us. We have also added some tips to prevent winter hypertension in this article.
Heart ailments remain one of the leading causes of mortality and morbidity in India accounting for at least 25% of the cases being due to the ignorance of the mild symptoms. While the existing burden is growing rapidly, the onset of winter has the potential to trigger this rate. In order to keep warm, the body’s demand to generate heat rises during winters which induce binge eating and craving tendency towards junk food. This may cause a state of high-calorie intake with minimal physical activity attributing to laziness, leading to weight gain, increase in bad cholesterol and lipid levels. All this causes an extra load on the working of our heart which has to pump harder and faster to keep the body function going. Most of the population which is healthy can tolerate this effect of a weather change but for people who are borderline cases of heart ailment or proven patients of cardiac problems will start showing symptoms that may require immediate medical attention.
How cold season affects blood pressure level?
As per Dr. Sibia, blood pressure is generally lower in the summer season and higher in the winter season. Cold climate causes constriction of coronary arteries and blood vessels. This leads to restrictive blood flow, increased levels of blood pressure and limited supply of oxygen to the heart. This shows not only cause aggravation of hypertension but the winter season also increases the risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular ailments.
In order to maintain body temperature in colder months, your heart needs to work harder or pump harder. This can also give rise to hypothermia which is a chronic condition that causes heart muscle damage due to quicker loss of heat.
In addition to cold climate, there are other factors that affect blood pressure. Sudden changes in weather such as a storm or a weather front can also cause the body to react. Abrupt changes in wind, atmospheric pressure, cloud cover or humidity can also affect the functioning of blood vessels. Mostly older people aged 60 years and above are susceptible to weather-related blood pressure variations.
Blood Pressure Variations Due To Seasonal Changes
Apart from temperature, there are several other seasonal reasons that cause fluctuating blood pressure, however, they are directly or indirectly linked to temperature changes. Reduced physical activeness, weight gain, etc. are some seasonal changes that can affect blood pressure. A lot of people tend to gain some weight in winters. Similarly, physical activity also gets affected. People who have hypertension should check their blood pressure regularly. This helps in identifying any significant change in BP.
If you see any change, you must reach out to your doctor. They may change the dosage of your blood pressure medication. Never take any medicine without a doctor’s prescription as it can result in unavoidable consequences.
Diet For Winter Hypertension
To combat any illness, diet plays a crucial role. You need to have only hypertension-controlling foods in your diet. Have you heard about the DASH diet? DASH or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet focuses on blood pressure control. People who are living with hypertension can follow DASH diet to lower their blood pressure, especially during the winter season when the risk of high blood pressure is high. Cut down on salt and consume more vegetables and fruits.
Foods for Winter Hypertension
As per experts, you can easily control your high blood pressure in winters with your diet. By taking the right foods for winter hypertension, you can effectively lower your BP without needing medications for the same. Keep reading to know what foods help combat winter hypertension.
Beetroot- It contains nitrates and antioxidants to control blood pressures. Besides, it also helps in warding off the risk of heart diseases. You can have beetroot in a salad or make a tasty beetroot chutney or simply a glass of beetroot juice in the morning would kickstart the day while keeping BP under control.
Curd or Yogurt- This is also considered a potent food in blood pressure control. It is high in calcium and you must add low-fat yogurt to your daily diet.
Pumpkin Seeds- Nuts and seeds are anyway good for health and a must element in regular diet. As far as winter hypertension is concerned, pumpkin seeds are rich sources of potassium and fibre. These boost heart health and therefore, you must have a handful of pumpkin seeds daily.
Fenugreek seeds- These seeds are exceptionally beneficial in weight loss but it is equally great for lowering blood pressure. It has soluble fibre that keeps cholesterol levels in check and due to low sodium content, fenugreek helps in the regulation of blood pressure. Drink fenugreek water daily to reap its nutrients.
Garlic- Consuming raw garlic with water on an empty stomach can resolve your hypertension woes. You can also drink garlic tea to increase antioxidants in the body and lower BP.
Steps to Prevent Winter Hypertension
Now that you know the impact of winter on blood pressure, pass on the information to your near and dear ones especially those who have hypertension. The elderly need to stay preventive during the cold climate to not fall prey to hypertension and other heart ailments. Here are some steps that can help in preventing winter hypertension. Implement these suggestions and consume foods for hypertension.
- Avoid exerting the body more than what is required. This includes high-intensity workouts, heavy lifting, etc.
- Avoid going out during extremely cold conditions especially when it is windy outside. This can cause a sudden change in heart’s workload.
- To not let the heart work more, you need to conserve body heat. For that, wear layers of warm clothes.
- When going out, wear gloves, a woolen scarf or cap and shoes. These would minimise exposure of the body to the temperature outside. By keeping the body warm, you would prevent a rise in blood pressure.
- Avoid the consumption of caffeine and alcohol as they cause rapid heat loss.
People who are hypertensive and whose job demands them to expose to cold for prolonged periods need to be extra careful. If they don’t take proper precautions, their blood pressure may end up skyrocketing that can cause extreme consequences. Before that situation arrives, it is better to be mindful and religiously follow all the instructions laid in this article. The only way to avert winter hypertension is by preventing its causes. If any person shows symptoms of hypertension, he/she must be immediately admitted to the nearby medical facility for aid. Delay in treatment can turn fatal for them.
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