By the way, doctor: Seasonal swings in blood pressure

Q. My systolic blood pressure is 40 points higher in winter than in the summer (160–180 versus 120–140 mm Hg). Do the seasons affect blood pressure?

A. I'll admit you've got me puzzled. Here are the possibilities I've come up with: Two are pretty obvious and straightforward, one's a little far out.

First, seasonal weight gain. During the winter, especially around the holidays, people tend to eat more and exercise less than they should. The resulting weight gain causes blood pressure to rise.

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