Tag Archives: high blood pressure

Weather advisories, dangerous arctic air and high blood pressure!

The United States is experiencing some of the most extreme cold weather conditions in its history. The implications for people with high blood pressure should not be ignored.

Patient First, a chain of primary care health centers with locations in Hampton and Newport News, has even issued a press release with advice for those dealing with current weather conditions on the Peninsula. The release cautions that “snow shoveling can be a strenuous activity. It can increase blood pressure and heart rate. Individuals with a history of heart disease, high blood pressure or strokes should not shovel snow.”

It continues that if a person must shovel snow, they should do so as early as possible. Snow is heavier after it has been on the ground for a few days — often melting and re-freezing, creating a solid chunk of snow rather than powdery, just-fallen snow. “Also, make sure that you are properly hydrated and prepare your body for shoveling by warming up. Jog in place or do 10 jumping jacks before you begin to shovel, as this will get your blood flowing before you begin. Shoveling too fast can increase your blood pressure.”

Researchers have explained that colder weather stimulates the nervous system, which essentially causes more stress, leading to hypertension, and even heart attacks. In cold weather, people also tend to eat more and exercise less, which can also lead to higher cholesterol levels and a higher blood pressure.

Another potential explanation for the increased risk of coronary events in colder weather is the stimulation of cold receptors in the skin and therefore the sympathetic nervous system, leading to a rise in levels of catecholamine — the small substances made by nerve tissue and the adrenal gland that play an important role in the body’s physiological response to stress. Moreover, increased platelet accumulation and blood thickness during cold exposure promotes clotting.

According to U.S. nonprofit, Mayo Clinic, low temperatures cause the blood vessels to narrow, thereby increasing blood pressure as more pressure is needed to force blood through your narrowed veins and arteries.

Dr. Sheldon Sheps, professor of medicine and former chair of Mayo Clinic, says that “in addition to cold weather, hypertension may also be affected by a sudden change in weather patterns, such as a weather front or a storm: “Your body — and blood vessels — may react to abrupt changes in humidity, atmospheric pressure, cloud cover or wind in much the same way it reacts to cold. These weather-related variations in blood pressure are more common in people age 65 and older.”

Best advice is to stay indoors, regularly check blood pressure readings and to heed cold   Website weather warnings.

Marie Coppola January 2014
From the Website of RESPeRATE®     




Richard and Me

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Shaping the New You  by Fran Signorino

The only reason I would take up jogging is so I could hear heavy breathing again.  ~  Erma Bombeck

When I tell people that I’ve been “doing Richard” for more than 10 years, they look at me funny. My affair with Richard started the way many relationships begin — I was troubled and depressed. My parents had passed away within six months of each other. After that most stressful time, my blood pressure rose from normal to high. My doctor, believing that the condition was temporary, did not feel that I was a candidate for medication. He suggested instead that I exercise — preferably an aerobic exercise — of the low impact variety.

At that time, the last thing I felt like doing was jumping around. But because I am a lover of dance, I purchased a “swing along” with Richard Simmons tape and so began my daily encounters with him.

Richard’s screaming and carrying-on irritated me somewhat on bad days, but his movements and “c’mon, get up — you can do it — I know you can” soon had me infatuated. Hey, you can’t have everything in a relationship. On the plus side, I didn’t have to travel back and forth to a gym; I didn’t have to force myself to get up early to walk. I could meet him on both our terms. And in my own home. I quickly learned his routines as if I were appearing in a Broadway show. He was a steady and driving teacher.

I even got a perm during this period to save me time not fussing with my hair. Alas, it came out a little too curly, and lo and behold, now we looked alike. I had Richard Simmons’ hair. Not by choice, but there he was looking back at me in the mirror.

The exercise outfits I bought brought me closer to his “look.” My kids started calling me “Richard.”

Within a month, my blood pressure stabilized, although my life did not. My daily workout with Richard helped me vent the stresses piling up each day. It was during one of these “workout” hours, intense on my part, that someone called me on the phone. I answered it, breathing heavily. “I can’t talk now, I’m doing Richard.”

“Scandalous,” the caller replied.

Whenever I answered the phone totally out of breath, my callers would say, “I’ll call you back — you’re doing Richard.” My son gave me a new workout tape for my birthday. He said, “New positions for you and Richard.”

So now Richard and I could move while Sweatin’ to the Oldies, and Dance Your Pants Off! while we were Groovin’ in the House.  And we got down with Tonin’ Downtown.  Richard and I went on company trips and vacations together.  I brought Richard to the shore.  He always wore the same clothes.  We still had matching hairdos.  Richard and I have been together longer than some of my past relationships.

I anticipate his every move and we mutually experience heavy breathing and sweating.  This also beats some of my former relationships. Yes, I admit after all these years, I still “do Richard” and I’m now a grandmother.  He’s always there for me, he’s always in a great mood, he always smiles and boy can he make the moves.

And judging from the assortment of tapes in the stores, it’s been as good for him as it’s been for me.

© Marie Coppola May 28, 2012