Unusual High Blood Pressure Causes: Winter Weather Is a Factor

It might surprise you that blood pressure readings tend to fluctuate with the seasons. Cold weather, changes in lifestyle, and other high blood pressure causes that are more prevalent in the winter contribute to this pattern.

high blood pressure causes

Besides the tendency to become less physically active in the winter than in warm, sunny months, there are physiological reasons blood pressure can fluctuate during cold weather.

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High blood pressure causes range from diet and stress to genetics and age, but did you know that cardiovascular disease risk factors also show a seasonal pattern? Blood pressure, triglyceride levels, cholesterol levels, body mass index, and waist circumference tend to fluctuate with the seasons, raising the risk for cardiovascular disease in the winter.[1]

Let’s take a closer look at how winter weather affects blood pressure.

High Blood Pressure Causes in the Winter

Cold temperatures increase blood pressure[2] by causing constriction of blood vessels, decreased sweat output, and increased salt load.[1] Lifestyles also tend to change in the winter; people often become less physically active and don’t exercise as much as they do in the warm, sunny months. Hormones that help control blood pressure, like noradrenaline, also show seasonal variations, and they might play a role in this trend.[2]

The Role of the Sun

Hypertension is associated not just with winter, but also with distance from the equator and exposure to sunlight.[3] This has a dual effect.

  • Less exposure to UVB rays. UVB rays promote vitamin D synthesis,[3] so with less sunlight, many people become vitamin D deficient in the darker winter months. Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of hypertension.[2]
  • Less exposure to UVA rays. A study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology found that UVA reduces blood pressure[3] by causing the release of nitric oxide from storage in the skin. Nitric oxide helps to dilate blood vessels, which lowers blood pressure.

Managing Blood Pressure in the Winter

While we can’t change the weather, we can take precautionary measures to manage our blood pressure in the winter. For one, take advantage of the sun when you get the chance.

While excessive sun can damage your skin (don’t let your skin burn), small doses of sunlight can be very beneficial to your blood pressure and your body as a whole. Also, try to keep yourself warm to prevent cold temperatures from elevating your blood pressure.

Read more about various strategies for lowering your blood pressure naturally here and check out these posts:

Share Your Experience

Have you noticed a seasonal fluctuation in your blood pressure? What do you do to keep your blood pressure in check? Share your tips in the comments section below.


[1] Heart. 2014 Oct;100(19):1517-23.

[2] Int J Health Sci (Qassim). 2013 Jun;7(2):210-9.

[3] Invest Dermatol. 2014 Jul;134(7):1839-46.


This article was originally published in 2014 and has been updated.

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Comments
  • Williams

    My blood pessure is uncontrolled as soon as summer is over even with additional medication. I am almost congined to my bed to prevent a visit to the emergency. I keep warm, stay indoor and eat right but my blood pressure is gettinh higher with every cold season. This is my third year in the north and my blood pressure has elevated by 20mg/m over the last 25 months. However in the summer all is well. Can someone suggest what I can do to help with this worsening situation.

  • Williams

    My blood pessure is uncontrolled as soon as summer is over even with additional medication. I am almost confined to my bed to prevent a visit to the emergency. I keep warm, stay indoor and eat right but my blood pressure is gettinh higher with every cold season. This is my third year in the north and my blood pressure has elevated by 20mg/m over the last 25 months. However in the summer all is well. Can someone suggest what I can do to help with this worsening situation.

  • The theory is absolutely absurd, in winter cold being contractive is very beneficial to all internal organs, warm is expanding, weakening, that is also the reason people are lazier and slower in warm weather, Countries in tropical climates are tipycally lazy and give the impression of constant drowziness. The reasomn this gentleman’s blood presure rises as soon as winter or Cold sets in is excess fluids in the body accumulated with excess fluid intake, water, fruit juices , beer etc… that is also the reason for most people who drink excessively during summer become sick with flu as the body tries to get rid of the fluid, so people urinate more, sweat more, running noses, is the natural balance mechanism, kidneys become enlarged, the contracting effect of cold causes it to squeeze similar to a “sponge”…One only needs to try it for a couple of days to understand, cut drastically you fluid/liquid intake and your blood pressure will be absolutely normal.

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