Blood pressure and heart rate responses in men exposed to arm and leg cold pressor tests and whole-body cold exposure

Int J Circumpolar Health. 2006 Apr;65(2):178-84. doi: 10.3402/ijch.v65i2.18090.


Objectives: Comparison of the effects of different types of cold exposure on blood pressure and heart rate.

Study design: Controlled laboratory study.

Methods: Twenty healthy men were exposed to three different types of cold exposure: cold pressor tests for hands and feet, and a 2-h cold air exposure at an ambient temperature of +10 degrees C.

Results: All types of cold exposure caused a rise in systolic and diastolic blood pressures. Heart rate increased in the foot cold pressor test. In the cold chamber test, heart rate fell, causing a decrease in the rate:pressure product. No statistically significant correlations were found between the blood pressure responses to cold pressor and cold chamber tests. The increased rate:pressure product observed in the cold pressor tests is indicative of an increased oxygen consumption in the heart muscle.

Conclusions: The measured cardiovascular responses indicate that a sudden local exposure to severe cold would be more stressful than a long lasting, milder exposure to cold, even when the latter is applied to the whole body

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Cold Temperature / adverse effects*
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male