Over time, high blood pressure can lead to serious problems including heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. Heart disease globally accounts for 30% of deaths every year. In some people, high blood pressure can also cause aneurysms, narrowing of the arteries or vision impairment. We already know that following a healthy diet (without eating too much salt or drinking too much alcohol), being physically active, staying at a healthy weight, not smoking and learning to manage stress all help maintain normal blood pressure.
This new study found that exposure of the skin to sunlight may also reduce blood pressure, by reducing levels of small messenger molecules and nitric oxide in the skin and blood.
Nitric oxide along with its breakdown products, known to be abundant in skin, is involved in the regulation of blood pressure. When exposed to sunlight, small amounts of NO are transferred from the skin to the circulation, lowering blood vessel tone; as blood pressure drops, so does the risk of heart attack and stroke. But further research needs to be done before the researchers can conclude that sunlight is effective at lowering blood pressure in more chronic settings.
Individuals who have high blood pressure can prevent future complications by eating healthily, exercising regularly, avoiding the temptations of nicotine, alcohol and too much salt, and doing their best to lead a stress-free life.