Introduction Seasonal variation in blood pressure and its association with outdoor air temperature has been reported in several studies. However, large population-based studies are few and data from developing countries such as China are limited.
Methods Cross-sectional data from the Kadoorie Biobank Study were used to relate seasonal variation in systolic blood pressure (SBP) to outdoor air temperature in 510 000 Chinese adults aged 30–79 recruited during 2004–2008 at 10 widely separated study sites. Analyses related mean SBP—overall and in subgroups of the population—to mean local air temperature on the day of recruitment.
Results SBP was strongly inversely associated with temperature within all 10 areas studied, at least above 5°C, with a mean rise of 5.7 (SE 0.04) mm Hg per 10°C fall in outdoor temperature. The mean difference in SBP between summer (Jun–Aug) and winter (Dec–Feb) was 10 mm Hg, and was more extreme in rural than in urban areas (12 vs 8 mm Hg). The association was slightly stronger in older people, at lower body mass index, and in people taking antihypertensive medications. At low temperature the association was greatly attenuated in participants with central heating in their home.
Conclusion SBP is strongly inversely associated with outdoor temperature in Chinese adults, across a range of climatic exposures. Season or temperature and access to central heating should be considered a source of variation in epidemiological studies of blood pressure and in the clinical management of hypertension.
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