Yet another reason to stress over global warming: Blood pressure rises when hot weather hits. Italian scientists monitoring the blood pressure of patients (age > 65) found that hotter days equaled higher blood pressure at night — as much as five points higher when the temperature had ranged over 78 degrees. This effect was only observed among seniors being treated for high blood pressure — not among unmedicated seniors or younger patients.
Previous research had shown that during cold weather, those prone to high blood pressure were more vulnerable to heart attacks. Perhaps moderation — even in weather — may indeed be the key to better health. While you don’t have much control over the elements, you do have control over other factors impacting your blood pressure, ranging from diet to exercise. For example:
- Those who derive more protein from vegetarian sources enjoy lower blood pressure than their more carnivorous peers, according to British research.
- Three 25-minute walks a week are enough to lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in one Japanese study.
- Add strength training: University of Maryland researchers found six months of weight lifting helped those with high blood pressure shift back into the healthy range. For best results, follow weights with some light cardio to mitigate any short term spike in blood pressure.
- Eat more bananas, cooked spinach and lima beans for the potassium needed to balance blood pressure.
- Get magnesium from soy, seeds, and seafood to help dilate blood vessels.
- Choose strawberries, broccoli, and red bell peppers for the vitamin C needed to help prevent oxidized cholesterol deposits that can clog arteries and restrict blood flow.
- Avoid excess salt and caffeine.
Bonus: Learn from blood pressure expert Michael Roizen, M.D., in the interview from Dole TV.
Published August 1, 2008