Srinagar: With drop in mercury to sub-freezing temperatures in the valley, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK)today warned that cold weather significantly increases blood pressure.
President DAK Dr Nisar ul Hassan in a statement said that chill of winter hikes blood pressure which increases the risk of fatal heart attacks and strokes.
The drop in temperature, he said, actually raises mercury in blood pressure gauges.
"Hypertension (high blood pressure) is harder to control in cold weather. Even healthy people aren’t off the hook. They also tend to have higher blood pressure in winter. Various studies have shown that winter brings elevated blood pressure in adults, children and elderly," he said.
In a study, blood pressure was found to be 30 mm Hg higher in winter than at other times, said Dr Hassan.
Frigid temperatures constrict blood vessels which increases blood pressure because more pressure is needed to force blood through narrowed vessels.
Hormones, like adrenaline, that help control blood pressure also increase in winter and they play a role.
Lack of sunlight during winter reduces vitamin D levels which increases blood pressure.
People are sedentary in winter, staying inside and eating more, that causes weight gain which contributes to hypertension.
Also, over-the-counter medication for common cold could be a factor.
"While we can’t change the weather, we can take precautions to manage our blood pressure. Keep yourself warm to prevent from cold temperature. If you move out, dress in layers, wear a hat, gloves and scarf. Avoid going in chill for walk and move your workout inside. And, don’t forget to take your vitamin D," suggested Dr Hassan.
Hypertension is a silent killer since it may occur for decades with no symptoms.
It not only is bad for heart or brain but it damages kidneys and leaves you blind.
In Kashmir every third person is hypertensive. Many are unaware that they have it, he said.
"Every time you visit the doctor, check your blood pressure- it is an important medical precaution.
"Hypertension is the modern epidemic and is the leading cause of death and disability.
"Globally, over one billion people are living with hypertension and it kills 9.4 million people every year.