Heart Strain, Blood Pressure, and Sundry Sickness

Your body has lots of ways of fouling up your day. Mostly they don’t happen and mostly the cold air is no deal breaker, but sometimes they happen, so we’ll touch on them.

The Red Scare

Cold weather stresses your heart and is bad if you have high blood pressure, or hypertension. One large city’s health department says so, and I don’t want to disagree. A dip into cold water is more clearly stressful on hearts. And a coma from extreme cold can lead to heart failure.

Shoveling snow can tax your body. And anxiety about issues often raises blood pressure.

Low blood pressure, or hypotension, sounds like a problem, too. There’s good medical info available on hypotension. Under normal conditions, if you have no symptoms, you may be fine most of the time, but I think cold temperatures could give you a problem. An extreme case is shock, which clearly is a problem with cold and requires emergency medical treatment even without cold.

Dress warmly and try not to stress yourself too much, either physically or mentally. Shovel snow in smaller loads. Save the panic for when you’re inside and warm.

The Rest of the Story

A bunch of illnesses have hypothermia as a symptom. I don’t know all of them. You need more protection from the environmental cold if you have one of those diseases. And you may need a doctor to look at it or advise you.

Stroke can coincide with hypothermia, either one hiding the other, because some symptoms can be similar. Stroke is an immediate emergency whether or not hypothermia is present or a risk. Call 911.

And there are some conditions that are treated partly by inducing hypothermia. That is, you’re made to be colder than you are. That’s usually done in a hospital. That’s well beyond the scope of this website.

Red crabapples on branches and covered with ice.

Blood pressure or heart strain could be bad news. Hypothermia signals some other diseases. Sometimes, hospitals treat you with cold.

Websites of Interest

These websites have some interesting content, although I disagree with some of it:


Hiking organizations:

General retailers of outdoor products:

General information: