Study: Controlling blood pressure with blue light shows promising results
Monday, November 19, 2018
About 75 million American adults (32 percent) have high blood pressure — that’s 1 in every 3 adults — and 1 in 3 adults has prehypertension. High blood pressure was a primary or contributing cause of death for more than 410,000 Americans in 2014. High blood pressure costs the nation $48.6 billion each year, a cost that includes healthcare services, medications, and missed days of work
Blood pressure levels are known risks for stroke and coronary heart disease. In some age groups, the risk of cardiovascular disease doubles for each increment of 20/10 mmHg of blood pressure, starting as low as 115/75 mmHg.
Other complications of raised blood pressure include heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, renal impairment, retinal hemorrhage, and visual impairment. Treating systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure until readings are less than 140/90 mmHg is associated with a reduction in cardiovascular complications.
High blood pressure should be treated initially with lifestyle changes and in some patients with medication at 130/80 mm Hg rather than 140/90, based on new ACC and American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines for the detection, prevention, management and treatment of high blood pressure. Only about half (54 percent) of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control.
A new study suggests that blue light can reduce blood pressure. Blue light increases levels of nitric oxide, an important signaling molecular that protects the cardiovascular system. Researchers believe that blue light releases from the skin into the blood stream and relaxes the blood vessels, increasing blood flow and decreasing blood pressure.
In this randomized crossover study, 14 healthy male participants were exposed for two days to monochromatic blue light or blue light with a filter foil (control light) over 30 minutes, a dose similar to daily sunlight. The researchers measured blood pressure (primary endpoint), heart rate, forearm vascular resistance, forearm blood flow, endothelial function (flow-mediated dilation), pulse wave velocity and plasma nitric oxide species, nitrite and nitroso compounds (secondary endpoints) during and up to two hours after exposure.
The researchers discovered that exposure to whole-body blue light significantly reduced the systolic blood pressure of participants by almost 8 mmHg compared to the control light, which had no impact. This reduction of blood pressure from blue light is like the reduction noted in clinical trials with blood pressure lowering drugs. According to the researchers, exposure to blue light provides a unique method to precisely control blood pressure without drugs. Wearing a source of blue light could make exposure possible and practical, which would be especially helpful to those whose blood pressure is not easily controlled by medication.
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