A new report from the American Heart Association has shown that cold weather may slightly raise systolic blood pressure and decrease blood pressure control rates. These factors may pose challenges for blood pressure treatments and heart health during the winter months.
The analysis included over 60,000 electronic health records from adults in the United States. The records were from adults who were being treated for high blood pressure between 2018 and 2023, and most participants lived in the Southeast and Midwest. Seasonal blood pressure readings were analyzed to determine potential differences between winter and summer months. Winter months were considered to be December through February, and summer months were considered to be June through August.
The results of the analysis showed that participants’ systolic (top number) blood pressure was 1.7 mm Hg higher in winter months compared to summer months. Additionally, blood pressure control rates decreased by 5% in winter months compared to summer months.
The authors of the study noted that they were surprised to see a large variation in blood pressure control between winter and summer months. Systolic blood pressure variation by season was less surprising since previous studies have shown similar or larger variations. For people who have hypertension or who are close to the blood pressure values that indicate hypertension, improved nutrition and physical activity during winter months may be important for offsetting changes in blood pressure control. Future research in this area may seek to determine whether heart disease and mortality related to blood pressure issues may also vary with the seasons. Nearly half of adults in the United States have high blood pressure, and high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease.