Can Exposure to the Sun Affect Your Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure (or hypertension) is a common, yet potentially very serious health condition that can lead to heart disease or stroke. To combat hypertension, doctors usually recommend that their patients follow a healthy, low salt diet and exercise regularly, but is there another simple thing that we all can do to lower our blood pressure?

Recent studies have indicated that spending more time outdoors in the sun can lower your lower pressure. What was found is that nitric oxide stored in the top layers of the skin reacts to sunlight and cause blood vessels to widen as the oxide moves into the bloodstream. That, in turn, lowers blood pressure.  The research, which was conducted by British researchers at the University of Southampton, exposed individuals with blood pressure within normal range to ultra violet light.  After exposure, those in the study saw a modest decrease in blood pressure levels. Researchers believe that the drop will be even more significant in individuals with elevated blood pressure.

Additional studies have concluded that people with higher levels of Vitamin D ( a vitamin that is commonly linked to sun exposure), experienced lower blood pressure levels and were at lower risk of developing hypertension. In fact, according to one recent study, for every 10 percent increase in vitamin D levels, there was an 8 percent decrease in the risk of developing hypertension.

Lastly, blood pressure levels tend to fluctuate seasonally, with levels typically being at their highest during the winter months. There are many potential factors for this, including  changing weather patterns and increased weight gain during the winter, but could more sun exposure be a factor in lower blood pressure during summer months?

This information does not mean that those looking to lower their blood pressure should rely on sun exposure as their only form of treatment against hypertension, nor should individuals ignore the potential dangers of prolonged, unprotected exposure to the. This research merely suggests that, if done responsibly, exposure to the sun can have a positive effect on your blood pressure levels.

If you have hypertension, speak with your physician about how increased sun exposure may benefit your condition. If you do not have a doctor, please call 718-670-5486.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Can Your Teenager Develop Hypertension?

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a disease that most don’t begin to think about until they are well into their adult life, but more and more teenagers and younger children are now developing high blood pressure.

It was once believed that high blood pressure in teens was largely related to an underlying problem with the heart or kidneys. Research has shown that this is not the case and that teens today are developing hypertension in approximately the same proportions as adults.

One of the biggest reasons is the rise of childhood obesity. Teens in the United States now weigh more and exercise less than in past generations. Smoking cigarettes, as well as alcohol and drug use can also be contributing factors. As a result, rates of high blood pressure among this group have a grown at a rapidly increasing rate.

While these factors certainly can’t be ignored, they are not the only reasons why a teenager can develop high blood pressure. The teenage years are synonymous with puberty. The sudden bodily changes that take place during this time in a young adult’s life can also play a role. Hormone changes and rapid growth spurts can cause transient increases in blood pressure levels. As a result, even if a child isn’t overweight or inactive, they could still post high levels. Being obese or inactive can only add to the problem.

Another issue is understanding the definition of hypertension in teenagers. While determining hypertension in adults is fairly easy as there are set numerical values used as markers, diagnosing the disease in teens is more complicated. To determine hypertension in teens, doctors look at five key factors:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Height
  • Systolic reading (the upper value which represents the pressure when heart contracts)
  • Diastolic reading (the lower value which represents the pressure when the heart relaxes)

These values are then compared to other boys or girls to determine where the teen falls with a certain percentile. The system is a complicated one but takes into account factors that better characterize a teen’s blood pressure. As a result, blood pressure readings that may seem high when looked at on an isolated basis may end up being perfectly normal when adjusted for the child’s height, age, and gender.

Because teenagers with hypertension tend to suffer more cardiovascular events later in life, early intervention is vital to lowering the blood pressure and sustaining long-term control.

Treating hypertension in teenagers will typically focus on lifestyle interventions before medications are considered.  Suggested changes include:

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Maintaining an ideal body mass index (BMI)
  • Exercising regularly
  • Quitting cigarettes
  • Limiting drug and alcohol use

It’s important that your teenager have an annual physical examination performed so a doctor can check their blood pressure. If your teen does not have a doctor, Flushing Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center has many qualified physicians. To make an appointment, please call 718-670-5486.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Is There an Underlying Cause for Your Hypertension?

Over 75 million or one out of every three adults in the United States has high blood pressure, or hypertension.  For most, hypertension is the result of either genetic or lifestyle factors such as obesity or smoking, but for approximately 10% of Americans, hypertension is caused by the existence of another disease.

When hypertension is the result of another medical condition it is referred to as secondary hypertension. Secondary hypertension can be caused by a variety of conditions that affect any number of different systems and organs. Some of the most common causes for secondary hypertension include:

  • Kidney disease -Secondary hypertension can be related to damaged kidneys or to an abnormal narrowing of one or both renal arteries.
  • Coarctation of the aorta.With this congenital defect, the body’s main artery (aorta) is narrowed (coarctation). This forces the heart to pump harder to get blood through the aorta and to the rest of your body. This in turn, raises blood pressure — particularly in your arms.
  • Adrenal disease – The adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys and produce several hormones that help regulate blood pressure. Sometimes, one or both adrenal glands make and secrete an excess of these hormones.
  • Hyperparathyroidism – The parathyroid glands regulate levels of calcium and phosphorus in your body. If the glands secrete too much parathyroid hormone, the amount of calcium in your blood rises — which triggers a rise in blood pressure.
  • Pregnancy –  Pregnancy can make existing high blood pressure worse, or may cause high blood pressure to develop (pregnancy-induced hypertension or preeclampsia).

Like primary hypertension, secondary hypertension usually has no specific signs or symptoms, even when your blood pressure has reached dangerously high levels.  Secondary hypertension can also worsen an underlying medical condition and lead to other serious complications, such as heart attack or stroke, if left untreated.

In most cases, once an underlying medical condition causing hypertension is identified and appropriate treatment is provided, your blood pressure will return to normal.

If you have a condition that can cause secondary hypertension, it is important to see your doctor and have your blood pressure checked regularly.

If you have hypertension and believe there is an underlying cause, schedule an appointment with your doctor. If you do not have one, please call Flushing Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center at 718-670-5486 to schedule an appointment.

 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Can Anxiety Cause Hypertension ?

While we all experience anxious feelings from time to time, there are some people who are clinically diagnosed with anxiety disease. One would think that prolonged anxiety could lead to an elevated blood pressure, but is there a link between the two?  Anxiety causes the body to release stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol and these hormones cause the heart to beat faster and also constrict the blood vessels. This will lead to a temporary increase in blood pressure. When blood pressure is elevated on a regular basis, and for prolonged periods of time, it can lead to damage of the blood vessels, kidneys and heart.
Anxiety can also lead a person to have unhealthy habits as a way of coping.  Smoking, drinking alcohol and a poor diet are examples of some of these bad habits and these can all contribute to elevated blood pressure. Certain medications that are used to control anxiety, such as serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, can also cause the elevation of pressure levels.

A few of the ways to treat anxiety is by learning what causes a person to be anxious and avoid those situations. This may require a change in lifestyle, eating habits, and learning how to relax.

If you find that you feel anxious frequently and would like to speak to a physician at Flushing Hospital, please call 718-670-5486

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Can Practicing Yoga Help Lower Your Blood Pressure?

Practicing yoga can give your overall health an added boost.  Studies have found that it is also helpful in fighting hypertension when combined with other methods of management such as a healthy diet, medication and aerobic exercise.  Research indicates that on average patients who incorporated yoga into their care management routine saw a notable reduction in their systolic blood pressure (top number) and diastolic blood pressure (bottom number).

It is believed that yoga is an effective complementary treatment for hypertension because it increases and strengthens the body’s ability to take in oxygen.  Additionally it can help improve resiliency to stress; a trigger in elevating blood pressure levels.

If you decide to include yoga as a part of your care, it is important to know that not all yoga poses are created equal in high blood pressure management. There are some poses that are helpful and there are others that can be harmful.

Yoga poses that can be beneficial are:

  • Bridge pose
  • Posterior stretch pose
  • Savasana pose
  • Child pose

Yoga poses that should be avoided or modified include:

  • Bow pose
  • Camel pose
  • Feathered peacock pose
  • Balasana pose

It is important that you speak with your physician before trying yoga.  Your physician will assess your health and advise if you are physically capable.  If your doctor has given you the green light, inform your yoga instructor about your hypertension.  This information will help in the prevention of injuries or the exacerbation of your medical condition.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

How Can Hypertension Affect Your Eyesight?

We are aware of the many serious consequences of living with high blood pressure, or hypertension.  Prolonged, untreated hypertension can negatively impact your heart and your kidneys, but how can hypertension affect your eyesight?

High blood pressure can lead to a condition known as hypertensive retinopathy and the damage can be very serious if not addressed.

Eye close upThe retina is a layer of tissue located at back of the eye and contains cells that are sensitive to light. These cells trigger nerve impulses that pass via the optic nerve to the brain, where a visual image is formed. When your blood pressure is too high, the walls of the retina may thicken, which restricts blood flow to the retina and limits its function, resulting in potentially permanent vision problems, including blindness.

A person with hypertensive retinopathy wouldn’t typically display any symptoms until the condition has progressed. Possible signs may include:

  • Reduced vision
  • Eye swelling
  • Bursting of a blood vessel
  • Double vision accompanied by headaches

In most cases, an eye specialist can diagnose hypertensive retinopathy during an examination using an instrument called an opthalmoscope to examine the retina. Your doctor will look for signs of narrowing of blood vessels, spots on the retina, swelling or bleeding in the back of the eye.

Effective treatment for hypertensive retinopathy involves controlling your blood pressure. This can be done through medication and lifestyle changes. Most importantly, doctors recommend maintaining an ideal body weight, eating and healthy diet and exercising regularly as methods to lower your blood pressure.

If you are living with high blood pressure, or if you think you are, see a doctor immediately. If you do not have a doctor, you can make an appointment at Flushing Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center by calling 5486.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.