Though January brings with it a brand new year and symbolic change, winter weather is here to stay, at least in most places throughout the country. If you struggle with, or at risk for, high blood pressure, you might need to be wary of these cold temperatures, as blood pressure is generally higher in the winter and lower in the summer.
This occurs because low temperatures will cause your blood vessels to narrow, which increases blood pressure because more pressure is needed to force blood through your narrowed veins and arteries. If you’re concerned about how cold weather may affect your blood pressure, contact your provider and read below to learn about potential treatment.
Lifestyle interventions are critical to prevent hypertension and during the treatment of hypertension while taking medications. You can help control and regulate your blood pressure by eating a heart-healthy diet, reducing sodium intake, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight.
It will also help your blood pressure if you quit smoking and limit the amount of alcohol you drink. You may also want to find ways to manage your stress - things like yoga, meditation, and slow, deep, breathing can help. You may even consider monitoring your blood pressure at home for convenience, especially if you are pregnant - but talk with your provider first.
Diuretics, also known as water pills, are medications that act on your kidneys in order to help increase the amount of water and salt, or sodium, and potassium expelled from the body as urine. By reducing the body’s blood volume, a diuretic can help lower your blood pressure.
These medications are often the first, but not the only, choice in high blood pressure medications. Chlorthalidone, Hydrochlorothiazide (Microzide), and Indapamide are some examples of diuretic medications.
Beta blockers work by opening your blood vessels and reducing the workload on your heart, causing your heart to beat slower and with less force.. Beta Blockers are usually prescribed in conjunction with other blood pressure medications. Common beta blockers include Acebutolol (Sectral), Atenolol (Tenormin), Nebivolol (Bystolic), Metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL) and others.
Ace inhibitors help relax blood vessels by blocking the formation of a natural chemical that narrows blood vessels. Examples include Lisinopril (Zestril, Prinivil), Benazepril (Lotensin), Enalapril (Vasotec), and Ramipril (Altace).
Similar to ACE inhibitors, these medications block a natural chemical that narrows blood vessels. Unlike ACE inhibitors, however, ARBs block the action, not the formation, of that natural chemical, thereby helping to relax the body’s blood vessels. ARBs include Candesartan (Atacand), Losartan (Cozaar), Valsartan (Diovan) , and Azilsartan (Edarbi).
Calcium channel blockers work by relaxing the muscles of your blood vessels, and some can even slow your heart rate. Note that grapefruit juice can interact with some calcium channel blockers, which can increase blood levels of the medication and put you at higher risk of side effects. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you're concerned about interactions.
Examples of calcium channel blockers include Amlodipine (Norvasc), Verapamil (Calan, Calan SR) and Diltiazem (Cardizem, Cardizem CD, Cardizem XT).
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, affects nearly half of American adults. Because there are so few symptoms associated with this condition, many people living with high blood pressure do not take their medications properly, if they take medication at all.
Proper medication use is important for those living with hypertension, because if untreated, it can put you at greater risk for heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. If you have questions or concerns about your blood pressure, reach out to your pharmacists today. They can screen and monitor your blood pressure, as well as provide counselling about the importance of lifestyle management and medication adherence.
References The Facts About High Blood Pressure. Sheldon G. Sheps, M.D. “How Cold Weather Affects Your Blood Pressure.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 19 Mar. 2020 “High Blood Pressure (Hypertension).” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 12 May 2018