Avoid Hypertension During The Holidays

Staff Writer

With temperatures dropping and winter around the corner, people should be keeping a closer eye on their health.

While hypertension may not seem like it would be affected by the weather, the cold can worsen the condition, particularly in the elderly.

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a medical condition in which blood pressure in the arteries is elevated, causing the heart to work harder than normal to circulate blood through the blood vessels. As such, the winter months where there is snow to shovel and not as many chances to stay fit, can lead to further complications.

Primary hypertension, the most common version, covers most cases of the condition, and is known to have no discernible cause. It can be due to the aging process of arteries. But the chances of getting it increase with a non-active lifestyle.

Some of the symptoms of hypertension include breathlessness, chest pains and/or dizziness.

Dr. Chong Park, the chairman of cardiology at New York Hospital Queens, said that hypertension worsens in the winter because the weather prevents residents, particularly the elderly, from leading healthy lifestyles. They do not want to go outside as much and medical appointments may go unattended.

“Some of the influences have been that they’re less mobile during the winter months. They seek less medical attention because it’s cold outside,” he said.

For older adults with hypertension, Park said they should not shovel snow at all. The elevated blood pressure puts a strain on the heart and it has to work harder to function properly. As such, shoveling snow can feel like running a sprint. At NYHQ, he said, heart attacks increase after a heavy snowfall.

If you do not have hypertension and wish to increase your chances of avoiding it, Park recommended an active, healthy lifestyle.

“Lead a good lifestyle of eating well and exercising regularly,” he said. “Have an annual and routine physical exam. We see many patients who have not been medically followed for many years and they are surprised when they have blood pressure above 200.”

Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125,, or @Joey788.