Blood Pressure: The Cold Facts

Freezing temperatures can give you bigger health problems than catching the sniffles.

By Nancy Coveney from Reader's Digest | February 2008

Cold weather may cause dangerous changes in blood pressure, say Veterans Affairs researchers. Their study of 443,632 veterans with high blood pressure found that we’re more likely to have high readings during colder months, probably because of winter weight gain and inactivity. Author Ross Fletcher, MD, advises, “People who are borderline, with a reading of 130/80 in the summer, should be checked again in winter.”

What blood pressure should you aim for? For heart health, experts agree: in general, the lower, the better. A group of researchers at Cleveland Clinic found that only patients who got their pressure below 120/80 showed signs of reversal of coronary disease. Those with higher numbers saw no change or an increase in arterial plaque.