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Bad Weather Could Elevate Blood Pressure by Up to 35 Percent

Update Date: May 22, 2013 01:51 PM EDT

For many people, cold, rainy weather is quite unpleasant. However, a new study has found that ugly weather may not just affect the mood - it may affect the blood pressure. In fact, for people most sensitive to weather changes, it can elevate the risk of death by 35 percent.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences at the University of Glasgow. The researchers collected 169,000 blood pressure measurements among 16,010 patients who had visited the Glasgow Blood Pressure Clinic between 1970 and 2011. Then the blood pressure readings were mapped for comparison with the weather that day.

On average, the researchers found that, if weather was the same on two consecutive visits, blood pressure dropped by 2 percent each year. However, according to the Daily Mail, half of patients were sensitive to extreme changes in weather, such as those that occur in the beginning of summer or winter. A temperature fluctuation by 10 degrees Celsius, or 50 degrees Fahrenheit, correlated with an average rise of blood pressure by three to six millimeters of mercury. Though that may not seem like a large amount, even two millimeters could mean a drastic difference in likelihood of a fatal heart attack and stroke.

The Scotsman reports that the link could be affected by a variety of factors. In nicer weather, people tend to be less stressed, affecting their blood pressure. In cold weather, as well, blood vessels close to the surface of the skin tend to constrict as a reaction to the lower temperature, causing an increase in blood pressure.

The result, says researcher Sandosh Padmanabhan, could mean a complication for practitioners. In some cases, we may actually reduce treatment thinking 
the blood pressure is low when actually it is just the weather having the effect," he said to the Scotsman.

The study was published in the journal Hypertension.

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