Lowering Blood Pressure with Sunshine?

High blood pressure is a major medical issue in the United States, affecting nearly half of American adults. Typically, high blood pressure is managed through lifestyle changes and medication. But suppose that sunlight could also have a positive impact on this problem?

Mounds of Data

This was the conclusion of an international team of researchers, who published their work in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Over a three-year period beginning in January 2011, the authors reviewed blood pressure readings collected from 2,200 clinics. In total, data from 342,000 patients was analyzed.

Upon collecting this information, Lowering Blood Pressure with Sunshine? regarding the effects of UV light on high blood pressure. the team then averaged each patient’s blood pressure readings by month. These monthly averages were then compared against each corresponding month’s average temperature and ultraviolet radiation levels. Finally, the patients’ genders, age and body mass index were taken into consideration. By the time the team was finished, they had combed through approximately 46 million blood pressure readings.

The Impact of UV Rays

So what did all this number crunching reveal? According to the study’s lead author, Dr. Richard Weller, patients who received large amounts of UV exposure generally had lower systolic blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure is defined by the Heart Association as a number that “indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when the heart beats.”

Weller further stated that the lower blood pressure readings could not be credited to just to warmer temperatures, as “half the seasonal variation in blood pressure is independent of temperature. It’s due to the UV alone. And that is really exciting.” At the time of the study’s release, Weller was in the process of conducting additional research regarding the effects of UV light on high blood pressure.

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