Newswise — It’s sad but true. Celebrity groundhog Punxsutawney Phil of PA and his relatives accurately predict the end or extension of winter only 39 percent of the time according to the United States National Climate Center.

Still, Groundhog Day remains a beloved national pastime.

In the northern states, winter often barrels past February 2 and continues through April Fool’s Day. Surviving long, cold winters requires extra care for the 100 million Americans who have high blood pressure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that almost one in three Americans have high blood pressure.

“During cold weather, the body restricts blood flow in an effort to maintain temperature and retain heat,” said vascular surgeon David Stone, MD of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire. “In return, the survival mechanism restricts blood movement and causes blood pressure to rise.”

Dr. Stone suggests the following winter weather tips: • Minimize outdoor activity. • Dress in several layers of loose-fitting wool, silk, or polypropylene clothing.• Always wear a hat. • Wear mittens instead of gloves.• Eat well-balanced meals.• Avoid alcohol and caffeine because they cause the body to lose heat more rapidly.

Dr. Stone notes that about five percent of Americans suffer from a vascular condition known as Raynaud’s Phenomenon. People who have this heightened sensitivity to cold experience numbing of the fingers, toes, lips, nose, and ears. Their body parts become red, white, or blue due to a shrinking of blood vessels and limited blood flow.

Raynaud’s Phenomenon usually affects women. Smoking, some heart and blood medications and migraine medications can cause primary Raynaud’s Phenomenon.

About the Society for Vascular Surgery

The Society for Vascular Surgery® (SVS) is a not-for-profit professional medical society, composed primarily of vascular surgeons, that seeks to advance excellence and innovation in vascular health through education, advocacy, research, and public awareness. SVS is the national advocate for 3,370 specialty-trained vascular surgeons and other medical professionals who are dedicated to the prevention and cure of vascular disease. Visit its Web site at® and follow SVS on Twitter by searching for VascularHealth or at

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