Bad weather could raise your blood pressure and even kill you

  • Scottish research found air temperature changes affect blood pressure
  • Sudden fluctuations in blood pressure have been linked to heart attacks
  • A drop in air temperature was understood to be most damaging to humans

By Fiona Macrae


A cold, rainy day can make the heart fall. But it could also cause potentially deadly changes in blood pressure.

Research shows many people’s blood pressure varies with temperature, with a drop in the mercury particularly damaging.

Over time, these fluctuations raise the odds of dying by more than a third. Lack of sunshine and inches of rain can also take their toll, the Glasgow University study found.

Rain, rain go away: British weather could be putting people's health at risk because sudden drops in air temperature affect blood pressure

Rain, rain go away: Scottish researchers found that British weather could be putting people's health at risk because sudden drops in air temperature affect blood pressure

While the finding may seem odd, blood vessels near the surface are known to narrow in cold weather, to conserve heat, which increases blood pressure.

Blood pressure changes put the body under strain and increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Researchers said doctors should note the weather when measuring a patient’s blood pressure. This would help them determine which patients are sensitive to it so they can adjust their treatment accordingly.


Heart expert Sandosh Padmanabhan made the link after comparing more than 40 years of blood pressure data on patients in the west of Scotland with meteorological data for the area.

It showed half of the patients were sensitive to drops in temperature, such as those that occur between summer and winter. A fall of around 10C led to an increase in blood pressure of between 3mm and 6mm of mercury. 

While this might not seem much, a change of just 2mm is enough to significantly affect the odds of fatal heart attacks and strokes.

'A dull, cold start with patchy drizzle coming in from the south'

Dr Padmanabhan said: ‘Every millimetre counts, that’s the important thing.’

Further analysis showed those whose blood pressure was sensitive to temperature were 35 per cent more likely to die over the period studied. Lack of sunshine also increased blood pressure – likely due to dull days tending to be colder.

Rain was found to be damaging but the researchers attributed this to patients becoming stressed while struggling to the doctor’s in wet weather. 

Heart attacks and strokes are more common in winter, but the study, published in the journal Hypertension, is the first to look at the issue in detail.

Dr Padmanabhan said doctors need to be aware of the link to properly manage blood pressure.

Otherwise a good reading in summer may lead to a patient missing out on potentially vital medicine. Similarly, someone who is known to be sensitive to temperature could pay extra attention to what they eat and how much exercise they do, to keep their heart healthy.

A Blood Pressure UK spokesman said: ‘It is really interesting to know there may be a relationship between the weather and blood pressure; more research is needed to understand the potential mechanisms behind this.

‘However until we can control the weather, we can still rely on more traditional ways of controlling our blood pressure, such as eating more fruit and vegetables, less salt and alcohol, and taking more exercise.

‘Even if the sun isn’t shining, I  would advise going for a brisk walk as a reliable way of reducing your long-term blood pressure.’

High blood pressure affects almost 16million people in the UK.

Scientists have recommended doctors note the weather when taking the blood pressure of patients because it may give a truer reflection of a person's health

Scientists have recommended doctors note the weather when taking the blood pressure of patients because it may give a truer reflection of a person's health

The comments below have not been moderated.

looks like people on here got no sense of humour

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I really hate these sensationalized headlines the DM come out with, how about you find some real news for a change?

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If this were true then the whole population of Ireland would have been wiped out. Ever heard of getting used to it?

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If you ignore the bad weather then it will have no effect on you !

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of course the weather can kill you, if its windy and a truck hits you then your a goner

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Since this survey was carried out in Scotland may be it simply demonstrates the negative effect on health of living in such a dismal place with such a dismal climate as Scotland. I think if I had to live in Glasgow I would turn to drink and fairly soon have a heart attack but not for quite the same reason the researchers suggest. Och aye the noo!

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Well this may be true but I have always thought that it is partly because of modern central heating that we have all become rather soft, nice as it is. If you are colder surely you burn more calories simply to keep warm and in the process stimulate your cardiovascular system. That is possibly why most of us feel exhilarated after being out in the snow and come in with a healthy glow. Or in other words all our small peripheral blood vessels pumping blood around us to keep warm and very good for us. Maybe that explains why this theory may not stand up in Scandinavia. Just a thought.

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Move to Spain - those of you who can!! Weather lovely, wish you were here??

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Another pointless study by boffins who have nothing better to do!

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Also death - that kills you.

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