Tag Archives: Hypertension

Hypertension (high blood pressure) a problem? Could sun exposure alleviate it?

Hypertension, or chronic high blood pressure, is determined by the amount of blood the heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in the arteries. The more blood the heart pumps and the tighter the arteries, the higher the blood pressure.[1] The top number on a blood-pressure measurement, stated in millimeters of mercury (mm/Hg), is called systolic pressure, and the lower number is called diastolic pressure. Hypertension is defined as having a blood pressure > 140/90 mm/Hg. sun exposure hypertensionThirty-one percent of US adults are hypertensive.[2] Hypertension can damage arterial walls and can eventually lead to an increased risk of death from heart disease, heart failure, and other arterial diseases. It is also associated to a higher risk of kidney disease, irregular heart rhythms, osteoporosis, cognitive dysfunction, painful intercourse and stroke.[3] Conventional textbook theory holds that blood pressure is regulated by the brain, blood vessels, or kidney, but recent evidence suggests it could be regulated in the skin, and sun exposure plays a role in controlling hypertension.[4] 

One of the earlier studies of hypertension and sun showed hypertension increased linearly at increasing distances from the equator.[5] One study of hypertensive subjects shows that blood pressure levels average 165/90 in winter but 134/74 in the summer, and both stroke and heart attack rates double in the winter.[6] Even in children, blood pressure is higher in winter than summer.[7] This, of course, is indicative of a protective role of sun exposure on hypertension.

UVB light treatments with sun lamps have also been shown to substantially lower blood pressure in 24 hours, and over six weeks to raise serum 25(OH)D levels of vitamin D by 162%, while lowering both systolic and diastolic pressure by six points.[8]

However, it is important to again mention that there is another important player in the relationship between hypertension and sun. Ultraviolet A (UVA) light (part of sunlight) stimulation of the skin causes the release of nitric oxide (NO) from pre-formed stores of NO in the skin. NO is a potent vasodilator, and when released into the arteries by UVA stimulation, causes increased blood flow and lowered blood pressure.[9], [10]

Safe sun exposure, along with plenty of vegetable and fruit consumption, may enable you to say goodbye to blood-pressure problems.

[1] Mayo Clinic Diseases and Conditions: High blood pressure (hypertension). http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/basics/definition/con-20019580 (accessed January 5, 2016).

[2] Fields LE, Burt VL, Cutler JA, Hughes J, RoccellaEJ, Sorlie P. The burden of adult hypertension in the United States 1999–2000: a rising tide. Hypertension. 2004;44:398–404.

[3] Ann Pietrangelo. Healthline 2014 http://www.healthline.com/health/high-blood-pressure-hypertension/effect-on-body (accessed January 4, 2016).

[4] Johnson RS, Titze J, Weller R. Cutaneous control of blood pressure. Curr Opin Nephrol Hypertens. 2016;Jan25(1):11-5.

[5] Rostand SG. Ultraviolet light may contribute to geographic and racial blood pressure differences. Hypertension. 1997 Aug;30(2 Pt 1):150-6.

[6] Charach G, Rabinovich PD, Weintraub M. Seasonal changes in blood pressure and frequency of related complications in elderly Israeli patients with essential hypertension. Gerontology. 2004 Sep-Oct;50(5):315-21

[7] Polat M, Akil I, Yuksel H, Coskun S, Yilmaz D, Erguder I, Onag A. The Effect of seasonal changes on blood pressure and urine specific gravity in children living in Mediterranean climate. Med Sci Monit2006;12:CR186-90.

[8] Krae R, Bühring M, Hopfenmüller W, Holick MF, Sharma AM. Ultraviolet B and blood pressure. Lancet 1998;352:709-10.

[9] Liu D, Fernandez BO, Hamilton A, Lang NN, Gallagher JM, Newby DE, Feelisch M, Weller RB. UVA irradiation of human skin vasodilates arterial vasculature and lowers blood pressure independently of nitric oxide synthase. J Invest Dermatol. 2014 Jul;134(7):1839-46.

[10] D Liu, BO Fernandez, NN Lang, JM Gallagher, DE Newby, M Feelisch and RB Weller. UVA lowers blood pressure and vasodilates the systemic arterial vasculature by mobilization of cutaneous nitric oxide stores. Photobiology Abstract # 1247 May 2013.

Read More

Outdoor activity, Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) and Vitamin D. Is Sun Exposure the real Key for Protection?

The necessity of sun exposure for heart health, by Marc Sorenson, EdD…

Despite the fact that higher vitamin D levels are nearly always found to be related to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease[1] and associated diseases such as diabetes mellitus,[2] randomized controlled trials have not found that vitamin D supplementation reduces risk of cardiovascular disease.[3]

Therefore, vitamin D levels are likely a surrogate measurement for sun exposure, meaning that some other photoproduct such as nitric oxide (NO) may be responsible for the lowered risk of CVD.  A pair of recent papers reported that leisure-time or recreational outdoor physical activity was significantly associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. In a study in the U.S., both frequency and intensity of outdoor activities were associated with reduced risk, as was higher vitamin D level.[4] When vitamin D levels were removed from the equation, an inverse association was still found between outdoor recreational activity and mortality. The authors stated the following: “The underlying mechanism for this association may not involve 25(OH)D hence, further studies are warranted to confirm and investigate the underlying mechanism.” I would suggest that nitric oxide was the protective photoproduct, produced by sun exposure, which lessened the risk of CVD with outdoor activity.

Similar findings have been found for hypertension, diabetes mellitus, heart failure, stroke, and myocardial infarction (heart attack). In a study in Finland, older adults who had moderate leisure-time activity had 30-40% reduced mortality and cardiovascular disease rates than those with low activity levels, while those with high activity levels had 50% lower rates.[5]

Two messages from this research: (1) Start living more of your life outdoors. (2) Be sure to obtain plenty of non-burning sun exposure during you outdoor activity. Your life may depend on it.

[1] Wang L, Song Y, Manson JE, Pilz S, März W, Michaëlsson K, Lundqvist A, Jassal SK, Barrett-Connor E, Zhang C, Eaton CB, May HT, Anderson JL, Sesso HD. Circulating 25-hydroxy-vitamin D and risk of cardiovascular disease: A meta-analysis of prospective studies. Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. 2012 Nov 1;5(6):819-29.

[2] Song Y, Wang L, Pittas AG, Del Gobbo LC, Zhang C, Manson JE, Hu FB. Blood 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels and incident type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis of prospective studies. Diabetes Care. 2013 May;36(5):1422-8.

[3] Veloudi P, Jones G, Sharman JE. Effectiveness of vitamin D supplementation for cardiovascular health outcomes. Pulse 2016;4:193-207 https://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/452742

[4] Donneyong MM, Taylor KC, Kerber RA, Hornung CA, Scragg R. Is outdoor recreational activity an independent predictor of cardiovascular disease mortality – NHANES III? Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2016 Aug;26(8):735-42.

[5] Barengo NC, Antikainen R, Borodulin K, Harald K, Jousilahti P. Leisure-Time Physical Activity Reduces Total and Cardiovascular Mortality and Cardiovascular Disease Incidence in Older Adults. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2016 Dec 26. doi: 10.1111/jgs.14694. [Epub ahead of print]

Read More

More Truth about Sun Exposure

By Marc Sorenson, EdD… Sun exposure benefits…

A very important paper regarding the necessity for sun exposure has recently been published by the journal Medical Hypothesis.[1] It is entitled Regular sun exposure benefits health, and it discusses the pros and cons of sun exposure. One of the salient statements in the paper is that intermittent sun exposure may increase the risk of skin cancer, whereas regular exposure to sunlight might benefit health. For those of us who have for years studied the beneficial effects of sun exposure, the use of the word “might” is the only drawback to the statement. There is no doubt that for the majority of the population, regular sun exposure absolutely protects and enhances health.

Among the diseases mentioned as being reduced or prevented by regular sun exposure are the following:

  1. Cancers: Colon, breast, prostate and non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  2. Multiple sclerosis
  3. Hypertension
  4. Diabetes

As the authors mention, most of these positive effects of sun exposure were previously ascribed to Vitamin D, but they point out that immune system function is enhanced by sun exposure beyond the effects of vitamin D, and list other non-vitamin D benefits of the sun, including:

  1. Production of nitric oxide
  2. Production of melatonin
  3. Production of serotonin
  4. Regulation of the circadian clock

I have discussed most of these items on the Sunlight Institute web site, but it was good to see new research that, in particular, separated the health benefits of sun exposure from vitamin D production. The idea that has become popularized during the past decade, that all benefits of sun exposure come from increased vitamin D production, is simply not true and can lead to the supplementation of vitamin D as a “cure” for diseases that may not be influenced by that hormone.

Of course, vitamin D is an exceptionally important photoproduct, and the only natural way to attain it is by exposure to the sun or to other sources of UVB light (such as a sunlamp or a tanning bed). The beauty of using these sources, rather than a vitamin-D capsule, is that all of the benefits of nitric oxide, melatonin, serotonin and circadian entrainment are included in the package.

Safely enjoy the sun, and you then will also safely enjoy better health. Remember not to burn, and to gradually develop a good tan.

[1]  van der Rhee H, de Vries, E, Coebergh, J. Regular sun exposure benefits health. Medical Hypotheses 97 (2016) 34–37

Read More

High blood pressure (Hypertension). Is it caused by low vitamin D levels, sun deprivation or both?

By Marc Sorenson, EdD. Sunlight Institute… promoting safe sun exposure…

It has long been known that vitamin D deficiency is associated with hypertension. But could that association really be a measurement of inadequate sun exposure? A most interesting investigation was carried out this month (July 2016) in which the researchers evaluated over 1100 subjects from an ongoing study called “the Reasons for Racial and Geographic Differences in Stroke.” They measured vitamin D levels and also assessed sun exposure levels, and found that both high vitamin D levels and high sun exposure levels were associated with higher blood pressure.[1]

What makes this research different is that when the data was adjusted for other factors, high sun exposure was even more impressive as a protective factor against high blood pressure. However, adjusting for vitamin D levels had no effect on the association of sun exposure to lower blood pressure; for each increase in sun exposure, there was a corresponding decrease in blood pressure, but the same was not true for increases or decreases in vitamin D levels.

The researchers made this statement: “We conclude that although 25(OH)D concentration is inversely associated with SBP, it did not explain the association of greater sunlight exposure with lower BP.”

To me, this research indicates that sun exposure directly effects lower blood pressure levels, independently of vitamin D. This is not surprising, since clinical trials of vitamin D supplementation have found only small effects on blood pressure.[2]

I hypothesize that nitric oxide (NO), is the mechanism by which sun exerts its impressive effects. NO is a potent vasodilator, and when it is released into the arteries by UVA stimulation, causes increased blood flow and lowers blood pressure.[3] [4] Dr. Oplander and his colleagues wrote the first paper on the UVA, NO and blood pressure in 2009,[5] and Dr. Richard Weller has been a leader in doing research and granting interviews on NO since that time. He has made two interesting statements: (1) “We suspect that the benefits to heart health of sun will outweigh the risk of skin cancer. The work we have done provides a mechanism that might account for this, and also explains why dietary vitamin D supplements alone will not be able to compensate for lack of sun.”[6] (2) “Although the benefits of sun are often attributed to vitamin D, a gas called nitric oxide is also important. Made when the sun hits our skin, nitric oxide lowers blood pressure when it enters the bloodstream. Although the reduction is small, it could ‘make a big difference.”[7]

A study from China also demonstrates that exposure to sun correlates to a lowered risk of hypertension.[8] In a randomly selected population of Chinese residents from Macau (where the rate of hypertension is very high), the following risk factors for hypertension were assessed: lack of sun exposure, low intake of fish, smoking, obesity and lack of exercise. An average of more than one-half hour of sun exposure per day compared to none predicted a 40% reduced risk for hypertension.

Vitamin D has many marvelous health effects, but sun exposure per se has many more, because not only does the sun stimulate the production on vitamin D, it also produces other vital photoproducts such as NO, endorphins and serotonin. When we avoid the sun and simply take a vitamin D pill, we are short-changing ourselves for the total package of benefits derived from the sun. And in the case of high blood pressure, we may be receiving almost no benefit from vitamin D. Think about it, and enjoy the sun safely.

[1] Rostand SG, McClure LA, Kent ST, Judd SE, Gutiérrez OM. Associations of blood pressure, sunlight, and vitamin D in community-dwelling adults. J Hypertens. 2016 Jul 1. [Epub ahead of print]

[2] Beveridge LA, Struthers AD, Khan F, Jorde R, Scragg R, Macdonald HM, Alvarez JA, Boxer RS. Et. al. Effect of Vitamin D Supplementation on Blood Pressure: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis Incorporating Individual Patient Data. AMA Intern Med. 2015 May;175(5):745-54.

[3] Liu D, Fernandez BO, Hamilton A, Lang NN, Gallagher JM, Newby DE, Feelisch M, Weller RB. UVA irradiation of human skin vasodilates arterial vasculature and lowers blood pressure independently of nitric oxide synthase. J Invest Dermatol. 2014 Jul;134(7):1839-46.

[4] D Liu, BO Fernandez, NN Lang, JM Gallagher, DE Newby, M Feelisch and RB Weller. UVA lowers blood pressure and vasodilates the systemic arterial vasculature by mobilization of cutaneous nitric oxide stores. Photobiology Abstract # 1247 May 2013.

[5] Opländer C, Volkmar CM, Paunel-Görgülü A, van Faassen EE, Heiss C, Kelm M, Halmer D, Mürtz M, Pallua N, Suschek CV.. Whole body UVA irradiation lowers systemic blood pressure by release of nitric oxide from intracutaneous photolabile nitric oxide derivates. Circ Res. 2009;105:1031–40.

[6] Quoted on Mercola.com  http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/07/15/sun-exposure.aspx accessed July 2, 2015.

[7] Weller, R. Shunning the sun may be killing you in more ways than you think. New Scientist July 2, 2015.

[8] Ke L, Ho J, Feng J, Mpofu E, Dibley MJ, Feng X, Van F, Leong S, Lau W, Lueng P, Kowk C, Li Y, Mason RS, Brock KE. Modifiable risk factors including sun exposure and fish consumption are associated with risk of hypertension in a large representative population from Macau. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 2013 Nov 1 [Epub ahead of print].

Read More

Do you have High Blood Pressure? Could Sunlight save your Life?

By Marc Sorenson, EdD  Sunlight Institute

High blood pressure (HBP, hypertension) is a plague in our society, with one in three adults in the U.S. having the condition.[1] Although 61,762 people per year die from HBP per se, its influence on other diseases may be more dangerous that HBP itself; it is also implicated in increased risk of death from heart disease, heart failure, other arterial diseases, kidney disease, irregular heart rhythms, osteoporosis, cognitive dysfunction, painful intercourse and stroke.[2] Although textbook theory holds that HBP is regulated by the brain, blood vessels, or kidney, recent evidence suggests that HBP could be regulated in the skin, and that sunlight exposure plays a role in in controlling the condition.[3] The authors of the latest research on this subject (footnote 3) demonstrate that sunlight produces a dilation of the arteries (known as vasodilation) by stimulating the production of Nitric oxide (NO) in the skin. NO is a potent vasodilator, stimulated by the ultraviolet A (UVA) portion of sunlight, and has been known for several years to lower blood pressure. Dr. Oplander and his colleagues wrote the first paper on the UVA and blood pressure in 2009, [4] showing a dramatic reduction of blood pressure with UVA.

A study from China demonstrates that exposure to sunlight correlates to a lowered risk of HBP.[5] In a randomly selected population of Chinese residents from Macau (where the rate of hypertension is very high), the following risk factors for hypertension were assessed: lack of sunlight exposure, low intake of fish, smoking, obesity and lack of exercise. An average of more than one-half hour of sunlight exposure per day, compared to none, predicted a 40% reduced risk for hypertension. Other factors such as smoking and poor nutrition, are of course very dangerous in producing HBP.

Dr. Grant has estimated that by doubling the dose of sun exposure, 400,000 lives could be saved yearly in the USA, with most of the reduction in mortality due to lives saved by lesser incidence of cancer and cardiovascular disease.[6] HBP, of course is a major player in cardiovascular disease, and we know that regular sunlight exposure is associated with profoundly lower risk of about 18 major cancers. Do not neglect to get your regular, non-burning sun exposure. It could save your life!

 

[1] American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Statistical Fact Sheet/2013 update.

[2] Ann Pietrangelo. Healthline 2014 http://www.healthline.com/health/high-blood-pressure-hypertension/effect-on-body (accessed January 4, 2016).

[3] Johnson RS, Titze J, Weller R. Cutaneous control of blood pressure. Curr Opin Nephrol Hypertens. 2016;Jan25(1):11-5.

[4] Opländer C, Volkmar CM, Paunel-Görgülü A, van Faassen EE, Heiss C, Kelm M, Halmer D, Mürtz M, Pallua N, Suschek CV.. Whole body UVA irradiation lowers systemic blood pressure by release of nitric oxide from intracutaneous photolabile nitric oxide derivates. Circ Res. 2009;105:1031–40.

[5] Ke L, Ho J, Feng J, Mpofu E, Dibley MJ, Feng X, Van F, Leong S, Lau W, Lueng P, Kowk C, Li Y, Mason RS, Brock KE. Modifiable risk factors including sunlight exposure and fish consumption are associated with risk of hypertension in a large representative population from Macau. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 2013 Nov 1 [Epub ahead of print].

[6] Grant, W. In defense of the sun: An estimate of changes in mortality rates in the United States if mean serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels were raised to 45 ng/mL by solar ultraviolet-B irradiance.  Dermato-endocrinology 2009;4:207-214.

Read More