Researchers establish link between cold climates, poor housing and high blood pressure

People living in the north and west of Britain in poor quality housing are at a significantly greater risk of high blood pressure than those living in warmer climates, and better quality housing, say scientists today.

The research, published recently in the International Journal of Epidemiology, shows how scientists from Imperial College London, the University of Edinburgh and University College London identified an `inverse housing law` in Britain, whereby people in colder climates such as the north and the west were on average a third more likely to live in poorer quality housing than those in the south and the east.

The researchers discovered a link between the `inverse housing law`, and the risk of high blood pressure. Those who lived in colder climates, in poor quality housing, could be up to 45 per cent more likely to develop high blood pressure.

Dr David Blane, from Imperial College London at Charing Cross Hospital, says: “This research has shown that there is a serious problem with a significant proportion of the housing stock in Britain. Those living in the worst climates are often also in the poorest quality housing. Many of the houses in the north and west of Britain, have been identified as being of poor quality.

“The findings of this study show how long term exposure to an adverse environment, can have a serious impact on health. The widespread existence of poor quality housing, unable to fully protect against the Britain`s climate, has been shown to have a significant impact on health. It is not possible to alter Britain`s climate, but an investment in housing may provide considerable health benefits.”

High blood pressure is defined in an adult as a blood pressure greater than or equal to 140 mm Hg systolic pressure or greater than or equal to 90 mm Hg diastolic pressure. If untreated, high blood pressure increases the risk of coronary heart attack and stroke.

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