Study Links High Blood Pressure to Cool Indoor Temperatures

Study Links High Blood Pressure to Cool Indoor Temperatures
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Some people, myself included, prefer chilly indoor temps. But if you have high blood pressure or you’re at risk of developing high blood pressure, you might benefit from turning the thermostat up a couple of degrees. The researchers behind a recently-published study say they’ve uncovered a link between cool indoor temperatures and hypertension, and making your home a bit warmer could be one method of bringing down your numbers or preventing hypertension in the first place.

Dr. Stephen Jivraj of the UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care said in a press release:

“Among other diet and lifestyle changes people can make to reduce high blood pressure, our findings suggest that keeping homes a bit warmer could also be beneficial.”

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Jivraj and his colleagues found that for every 1/3-degree Fahrenheit decrease in indoor temperature, there was an increase of 0.48 mmHg in systolic blood pressure and 0.45 mmHg in diastolic blood pressure. Normal blood pressure is considered less than 120/80, according to guidelines from the American College of Radiology and the American Heart Association.

The first number refers to systolic pressure – a measurement of the force of the heart’s contraction. The second number refers to diastolic pressure, which measures resistance in the blood vessels.

Jivraj said:

“Our research has helped to explain the higher rates of hypertension, as well as potential increases in deaths from stroke and heart disease, in the winter months, suggesting indoor temperatures should be taken more seriously in diagnosis and treatment decisions, and in public health messages.”

For the study, the team analyzed data on people over 16 and older who participated in the Health Survey for England in 2014, answering questions about their overall health and lifestyle habits. [2]

Some 4,659 participants received in-home visits from nurses, who took blood pressure readings and checked the temperature of their living rooms.

The scientists accounted for social deprivation and outdoor temperatures to identify an independent association with indoor temperature.

Among those with the coolest living room temperatures, the average systolic and diastolic blood pressure were 126.64 mmHg and 74.52 mmHg, respectively, and compared with 121.12 mmHg and 70.51 mmHg, respectively, in the warmest living rooms.

Fascinatingly, the researchers believe that physical activity could mitigate the heart risks of living in a cooler environment. Indoor temps had a greater impact on the blood pressure of individuals who led sedentary lifestyles, suggesting that people who don’t exercise need to live in a warmer environment to control their blood pressure.

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The findings also suggest that keeping your home warmer during the winter months could halt increases in blood pressure and the associated cardiovascular risks, particularly among older adults and those with a family history of hypertension, both of which are at higher risk of heart attack.

The study didn’t identify a threshold for a warm enough home, but the researchers suggested that keeping living rooms at around 70+ degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) could be advisable for general health.

The study was published on August 23, 2018, in the Journal of Hypertension.


[1] UPI

[2] Economic Times