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Exposure to sunlight may help lower blood pressure

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A lot of people enjoy relaxing in the sunshine. As long as the exposure to the sun is not overdone and good quality sunscreen is used, sunshine may help people with more than just a subjective feeling of relaxation. Exposing your skin to sunlight may help you to reduce blood pressure and therefore lower the risk of heart attack and stroke, reported the Science Daily on Jan. 17, 2014.

Researchers at the Universities of Southampton and Edinburgh have demonstrated that sunlight alters levels of the small messenger molecule, nitric oxide (NO) in the skin and blood, resulting in a reduction of blood pressure. Martin Feelisch, who is a professor of Experimental Medicine and Integrative Biology at the University of Southampton, has said, "NO 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." It has therefore been suggested that if precautions against skin cancer are taken exposure to sunlight can therefore be very beneficial for your health.

Hypertension is a primary risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and lowering of elevated blood pressure significantly lowers the risk of cardiovascular events, reports the National Institutes of Health. Endothelial dysfunction, which has been shown to be characterized by impairment of nitric oxide (NO) bioavailability, is a significant risk factor for both hypertension and cardiovascular disease and may represent a major link between these conditions. Evidence has suggested that NO plays a major role in regulating blood pressure and that impaired NO bioactivity is a significant component of hypertension.



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