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Blood pressure and thermal responses to repeated whole body cold exposure: effect of winter clothing

Abstract

The effect of outdoor clothing and repeated cold exposure on blood pressure, heart rate, skin temperature, and thermal sensation was studied in 16 young (18–34 years) and 8 middle-aged (35–51 years) normotensive participants. Four winter clothing ensembles were used: regular winter clothing without a hat, with a hat, with an extra pair of pants, and with a hat and an extra pair of pants. The participants were exposed four times to −5°C for 15 min wearing different clothing ensembles in counterbalanced order and each cold exposure was followed by 25 min of rewarming at 25°C. The results showed that systolic and diastolic blood pressure increased in cold and increased more when a hat was not used. Wearing hats not only reduced the blood pressure response during cold exposure, but also promoted faster recovery of forehead skin temperature and blood pressure. These findings are encouraging and warrant further investigations to better understand the benefits of wearing appropriate clothing in the winter, especially among older people and patients with cardiovascular diseases.

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Acknowledgments

This research was funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) through the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centre on Universal Design and the Built Environment (grant #H133E050004-08A), a partnership with the Centre for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDEA). The authors acknowledge the support of the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, which receives funding under the Provincial Rehabilitation Research Program from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in Ontario. Equipment and space were funded, in part, with grants from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Province of Ontario. The authors wish to express their gratitude to Jennifer Hsu, Stephanie Soo, and Christine Yen for their invaluable assistance in data collection. The authors would also like to thank all the participants for their time and effort.

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Correspondence to Yue Li.

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Li, Y., Alshaer, H. & Fernie, G. Blood pressure and thermal responses to repeated whole body cold exposure: effect of winter clothing. Eur J Appl Physiol 107, 673 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-009-1176-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-009-1176-5

Keywords

  • Winter
  • Cold exposure
  • Blood pressure
  • Skin temperature
  • Hat
  • Warm clothing