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Feeling the sun on your skin can reduce blood pressure

Sitting out in the sunlight and exposing your skin to it could help reduce your blood pressure, which in turn could help cut the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Research carried out by the University of Southampton showed sunlight altered levels of the small molecule nitric oxide in the skin and blood which reduced blood pressure.

The study consisted of 24 healthy people exposing their skin to UVA and UV rays from tanning lamps.

The results showed that UVA exposure dilates blood vessels, lowers blood pressure and alters nitric oxide in the circulation without changing vitamin D levels.

Cardiovascular disease, which is associated with high blood pressure, takes 30% of deaths globally each year.

Lowering blood pressure

Heart experts at Southampton’s teaching hospitals are using a groundbreaking drug-free treatment which involves ‘blasting’ nerves in the kidneys with radio waves to reduce high blood pressure.

The technique, called renal denervation (RDN), is performed in around 45 minutes under local anaesthetic.

Around 30% of people in England suffer from high blood pressure – known as hypertension – which causes the body to pump blood too forcefully through the arteries and heart.

Complications of untreated hypertension can cause heart attacks, stroke or kidney disease, and lead to premature death.

After guiding a device into the arteries of the kidneys through the groin using X-ray images, doctors deliver high frequency signals to burn off overactive nerves, increasing blood flow to the organs and reducing levels of a hormone linked to high blood pressure.

This treatment really is a milestone in the field as, for the first time, we are able to say to people who cannot control their blood pressure with medication now have an option to limit their risk of stroke or heart disease.

The device allows us to gain access to the kidneys and fire short bursts of radio waves to burn overactive nerves, meaning we can bring blood pressure down to normal levels in most patients.

– Dr James Wilkinson, consultant cardiologist, Southampton General Hospital.

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