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Hypothermia Risks

Do high-blood pressure medications increase my risk of hypothermia while hiking in negative-40°F weather?

Question:

Do high-blood pressure medications increase my risk of hypothermia while hiking in negative-40°F weather?

Submitted by - M.P., Flint, MI

Answer:

You Michiganders sure enjoy your cold. High-blood pressure and hypertension drugs operate through many different mechanisms (ACE inhibitor, beta blocker, calcium channel blocker), but none should make an otherwise healthy person more susceptible to hypothermia. More importantly, you should be taking normal cold-weather precautions: stay well-hydrated, wear insulating clothing, avoid overexertion, and protect exposed skin. While the initial response to acute cold is a spike in blood pressure, you should be okay as long as the drugs are controlling your hypertension. As always, check with your personal physician if in doubt.

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