Let me begin by pointing out this finding is based off a small study of only 24 volunteers, but if the findings are accurate…what a relaxing way to promote a lower blood pressure!
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, exerts force against artery walls. If the force is high, it’ll cause microscopic tears that turn into scar tissue. This scar tissue promotes the accumulation of plaque in their artery walls causing arteries to narrow and harden.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 67 million American adults have high blood pressure. Or to state another way…that is 1 in every 3 American adults.
Why this happens is still unknown.
It’s speculated that nitric oxide plays a role. The skin contains nitric oxide metabolites. It is hypothesized that UVA exposure mobilizes the nitric oxide into circulation resulting in beneficial cardiovascular effects.
Researchers speculate this may play a role in why those in the “darker north”, such as Scotland, have higher death rates associated with heart disease. Incidence of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease rises in the winter and in relation to latitude.
The 24 volunteers in the study obtained the equivalent of 30 minutes of natural sunlight at noon on a sunny day in Southern Europe. Just in case lower blood pressure is caused by warming, the volunteers were protected from this warming effect. Researchers found volunteers blood pressure reduced by about five points with the effects lasting a half hour.
That doesn’t mean potential negative effects associated with too much sunlight, such as skin cancer, should be ignored in favor of this potential cardiovascular benefit. However, it be worth exploring a healthy balance of time in the sun against preventive measures to protect your skin.
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Published On: March 31, 2014