Global climate change is affecting health and mortality, particularly in vulnerable populations. High ambient temperatures decrease blood pressure (BP) in young and middle aged adults and may lead to orthostatic hypotension, increasing the risk of falls in older adults. The aim of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of a test protocol to investigate BP response and aerobic capacity of older adults in a hot indoor environment. BP response and aerobic capacity were assessed in 26 community-dwelling older women (median age 75.5 years) at a room temperature of either 20 °C or 30 °C. The protocol was well tolerated by all participants. In the 30 °C condition systolic and diastolic BP (median difference 10 and 8 mmHg, respectively) and distance walked in 6 min (median difference 29.3 m) were lower than in the 20 °C condition (all p < 0.01). Systolic BP decreased after standing up from a lying position in the 30 °C (17.4 mmHg) and 20 °C (14.2 mmHg) condition (both p < 0.001). In conclusion, the protocol is feasible in this cohort and should be repeated in older adults with poor physical performance and impaired cardio-vascular response mechanisms. Furthermore, aerobic capacity was reduced after exposure to hot environmental temperatures, which should be considered when recommending exercise to older people during the summer months.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2014, Vol 11, Issue 12, p. 12623-31