As the old saying goes, it’s not just the heat, it’s the humidity. It turns out, that applies to the affect summer weather has on your blood pressure, too. Today, high blood pressure affects as many as one out of every three adults in the United States. While high blood pressure doesn’t typically have many obvious symptoms, it should never be ignored because it increases the likelihood of you developing several serious conditions.
Blood pressure is basically the force that the blood circulating through your body puts on your arteries. Also called hypertension, it’s a dangerous condition for a wide range of reasons. When you have high blood pressure, for example, your heart has to work harder to do its job, which can lead to an enlarged heart. High blood pressure can also cause small bulges, or aneurysms, in your blood vessels, which can be extremely dangerous.
There are several factors that can cause high blood pressure, one of which is a diet that includes a lot of high-glycemic carbohydrates. This triggers the production of insulin in your body which leads to an accumulation of salt and fluid. Other factors include:
-A sedentary lifestyle
-Too much salt in your diet
-Certain medications, both prescription and over-the-counter
-Consuming too much alcohol
How summer weather affects blood pressure:
When summer arrives, it brings with it a lot of changes in our lives. Naturally, the temperature goes up and, especially in Florida, so does the humidity. Additionally, the days are longer and many people are more likely to spend time participating in outdoor activities. So, if you are more active during the summer, the exercise, taken by itself, can have a positive impact on your blood pressure.
The effect the weather has on your blood pressure brings risks when the temperature is above 70 degrees and the humidity is over 70 percent. As your body tries to cool itself, it does so by pumping more blood to the surface of the skin, radiating heat away from the body. This is why we sweat. As the sweat evaporates, it pulls heat from the body.
However, when the humidity is high, the sweat doesn’t evaporate as efficiently and the body does not cool off. This causes the heart to work harder because it’s pumping more blood to the surface, which increases your blood pressure.
What to look out for:
As we age it becomes even more important to pay attention to our blood pressure. Make sure you know your numbers, especially if you have a chronic condition like heart disease, kidney disease, or diabetes. And you don’t have to wait until your next visit to the doctor’s office because, these days, most pharmacies and even grocery stores have a kiosk where you can have your blood pressure read for free. Also, buying a blood pressure monitor for your home is fairly affordable. Ideally, a reading of 120/80 is preferred and a reading of 130/80 is considered to be elevated.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take that may help reduce your blood pressure. For example, you might consider changes to your diet that include less salt and fewer carbohydrates. Moderate exercise is also a good way to reduce your blood pressure, but be careful about getting overheated. If you like to walk, do it early in the morning or close to sunset when it’s a little cooler.
Your physician can also prescribe medication that has been proven effective and safe at lowering blood pressure. As always, be sure to discuss all of your health concerns with your doctor so he or she can prescribe the most effective medication.