About Rob Woodgate

Rob Woodgate is the co-creator of the Hypnotension programme, and is passionate about helping people understand how their mind works so they can use it to enrich their lives. In his spare time, he loves taking his family on sailing adventures and meeting up with friends.

Soak up the sun to lower blood pressure

Sun exposure can lower blood pressure

Sun exposure can lower blood pressure

We may tend to think that getting away from the daily grind is what relaxes us on holiday, but the sun may play a larger role than previously thought.

Researchers at Universities of Southampton and Edinburgh found that exposing skin to sunlight may help to reduce high blood pressure by altering the levels of Nitric Oxide in the skin and blood.

Nitric Oxide, which is found naturally in green leafy vegetables and Beetroot, has a powerful relaxing effect on the blood vessels, which in turn reduces blood pressure.

The researchers found that sunlight was the key to unlocking the skin’s abundant stores of Nitric Oxide, allowing small amounts to enter the blood stream.

Although over-exposure to sunlight can raise the risk of skin cancer, the researchers suggest that the risks are outweighed by the benefits of sunlight in reducing cardio-vascular issues such as high blood pressure.

According to World Health Organisation statistics, high blood pressure accounts for around 30% of all deaths worldwide whereas skin cancer only causes around 0.6% (there were 46,000 skin cancer deaths in 2008).

The research adds to our understanding of why blood pressure rates tend to rise in the winter, and are generally higher in more northerly latitudes.

The study exposed 24 healthy individuals to Ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation in two 20 minute sessions – and found that it significantly lowers blood pressure by altering the Nitric Oxide levels in the bloodstream.

However, it did not change Vitamin D levels, suggesting that it doesn’t play as big a role in the process as previously thought.

Martin Feelisch, Professor of Experimental Medicine and Integrative Biology at the University of Southampton said, “It may be an opportune time to reassess the risks and benefits of sunlight for human health and to take a fresh look at current public health advice. Avoiding excess sunlight exposure is critical to prevent skin cancer, but not being exposed to it at all, out of fear or as a result of a certain lifestyle, could increase the risk of cardiovascular disease”.

Of course, while a holiday or two can certainly help, there are plenty of causes of high blood pressure, many of which can be changed with small behavioural and lifestyle changes to help you keep your blood pressure down all year round.

Overwork damages health and is bad for business, say economists

overwork leads to high blood pressure

Overwork leads to high blood pressure

Experts from the New Economics Foundation (NEF) have recognised the damaging effects of overwork, both on health as well as productivity, and have called for the working week to be cut over time to 30 hours per week.

The independent think-tank made their argument for shorter working hours in a new book, Time on Our Side, citing Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany as examples of countries who have made changes like these without weakening their economies.

They are calling for companies to give workers more time off instead of pay rises, and say that more free time will ease the burden on families who have to juggle work and family responsibilities.

Anna Coote, head of social policy at the NEF said, “We all know the saying ‘time is money’, but it is much more precious than that… Having too little time to call our own can seriously damage our health and wellbeing, our family life, friendships and communities”.

Are you working yourself to death?

The book comes at a time when our fragile global economy and fears over job security mean that people are working longer hours than ever before.

The last report from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) in 2011 showed that full-time UK employees work longer hours than the European average. The UK average was 42.7 hours, with some workers topping 52 hours a week.

The link between the stress and high blood pressure has long been recognised. A study published in the Journal Hypertension back in 2006 found that the risk of high blood pressure increases in proportion to hours worked, and showed that people who work more than 51 hours a week were 29% more likely to develop hypertension than people working 39 hours per week.

Even those working one extra hour – 40 hours per week – were found to be 14% more likely to get high blood pressure!

Clerical and unskilled workers were found to be most at risk, which led researchers to suggest that mentally stimulating jobs may provide some protection against the risks.

Why you need to take action to help yourself

Even though European Law supposedly imposes a maximum of 48 hours per week, there are countless cases of employees feeling pressured to ‘opt out’ or work harder to compensate.

The UK Trade Union Congress (TUC) estimates that UK employees currently contribute more than £29bn in ‘unpaid overtime’ each year, and skeptics have suggested that a shorter working week would only push working hours further ‘underground’ by increasing the amount of work people take home.

And as a study into the effects of South Korea’s Five-Day Working Policy showed, a shorter working week makes no significant impact on overall job and life satisfaction when employers can simply increase the intensity of work or give less holiday time to compensate for a shorter working week.

So you could die waiting for employers to finally recognise that happier, relaxed employees are more productive and take fewer sick days than stressed out, overworked ones.

Hidden stressors lead to high blood pressure

At Hypnotension, we help people recognise and deal with the emotional and lifestyle factors underpinning high blood pressure so they can lower their blood pressure naturally.

Hidden stressors, such as being overburdened by things which are out of your control, can have a profound effect on your blood pressure, which is why (we suspect) jobs which allow you to think for yourself are generally less likely to lead to high blood pressure than clerical or so called ‘unskilled’ jobs.

In our experience, even the act of taking positive steps to help yourself can give you enough sense of control to make a difference.

So even if you can’t change how things are at work, you can begin to change the way you respond so that it becomes less of a source of stress.

That’s often easier said than done, however, so our network of Certified Hypnotension Practitioners are standing by if you need any help.

What is normal blood pressure?

Normal Blood Pressure

Normal blood pressure is a reading of around 115/75

There is a lot of confusion about what is average and what is normal blood pressure, and a recent poll we conducted found that 87% of people thought a blood pressure reading of 120/80 was normal.

The confusion, it seems, comes from the difference between normal blood pressure and average blood pressure.

Let me explain…

If you were to take the blood pressure of every single person in the world, the average blood pressure would be 120/80.

But this global average is certainly not normal blood pressure. In fact, a blood pressure of 120/80 is medically defined as ‘pre-hypertensive’.

In medical terms, this means you are on your way to having high blood pressure. It’s when you start to have a measurable risk of dying from a cardio-vascular event such as a heart attack or stroke.

‘Average’ and Normal blood pressure are not the same!

In fact, normal blood pressure is defined as a blood pressure reading of around 115/75. At this normal level, there is no appreciable risk to health.

Its important to remember, however, that your blood pressure can fluctuate throughout the day. It can also temporarily spike when your blood pressure reading is being taken by a medical professional (something known as “white coat hypertension”).

That’s why it is recommended that you check your own blood pressure frequently, and “know your numbers”. It’s why you also need to take a number of blood pressure readings over time to be confident of your usual blood pressure.

Higher than normal blood pressure readings can be the result of many lifestyle factors, including your weight, how much alcohol you drink, how much salt you eat and the stresses you face in your life.

In some cases, high blood pressure can also be due to diseases, such as kidney disorders and certain hormone imbalances, so if you have consistently higher than normal blood pressure, its important to seek medical advice as well as looking at your lifestyle.

There are many things you can do to reduce high blood pressure naturally, and if you need any help to get your blood pressure moving back towards normal, our network of specially trained Hypnotension Practitioners will be more than happy to help.

School success may come at the expense of health

school stress causes high blood pressure in teensPressure to succeed in school may by contributing to an increase in high blood pressure and obesity in teenagers.

Research into high blood pressure and quality of life by the University of Göttingen Medical Centre showed that pressure to succeed in school doubled the rate of high blood pressure in teenagers.

Their study of 7,688 boys and girls ages 11 to 17 found that 10.7 percent had high blood pressure – which is twice the number expected.

High blood pressure is a leading cause of death worldwide, with World Health Organisation statistics showing it accounts for nearly two thirds of strokes and half of all heart disease.

Unsurprisingly, the teenagers with hypertension were more likely to be obese, and spent more time watching TV or playing video games than those with normal blood pressure.

But unexpectedly, those with high blood pressure were often more academically successful than those with normal blood pressure.

The researchers say the data supports the emotional repression theory of hypertension, which underpins the Hypnotension approach to lowering blood pressure naturally.

The sad fact is that in our current cultural and economic climate, teenagers feel an immense pressure to succeed at school.

And whilst stress can be a powerful motivator, it also affects blood pressure – both directly, as well as encouraging obesity through emotional eating.

This research strongly suggests that the pressures of school have driven the most successful students at the expense of their health, and the researchers confirm that repression of emotions may lead people to rate their quality of life higher and at the same time lead to higher blood pressure.

At Hypnotension, we help people deal with the emotional and lifestyle factors underpinning high blood pressure so they can lower their blood pressure naturally.

Time Pressures Encourage High Blood Pressure

time pressure encourages high blood pressureTick tock… modern life means that most of us are ruled by the clock.

School runs, meetings, deadlines, commitments. Most people fill their day from start to end.

Aside from the obvious blood pressure raising stress of being under chronic time pressure, our modern lifestyles mean we most of us just don’t take the time to exercise or prepare healthy meals.

In fact, a recent study of over 112,000 Americans confirms that we spend less than an hour each day on exercise and food preparation combined.

Worse, the study found that a ten minute increase in the time spent preparing food led to a ten minute reduction in exercise that day.

In other words, we tend to trade one healthy act for another, just to squeeze everything in.

The problem is that some of the key lifestyle factors leading to high blood pressure include being overweight, eating too much salt, stress and lack of exercise.

So trading food preparation time for exercise can mean we either turn to pre-packaged meals and sauces that are high in sugar, salt and fat or we do less stress relieving exercise just to fit in all the things we have to do on an average day.

Ok, so time may be a precious resource, but what is more important than your health?

Eggs may help lower blood pressure

© Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY 2.5

Image: Marie-Lan Nguyen

The humble egg has been on ‘death row’ for years – with claims that it clogs arteries and raises cholesterol levels. And who can forget Edwina Currie’s infamous salmonella comments.

But new research from the Jilin University in China has comprehensively debunked the claims that eggs are bad for the heart and the circulatory system.

Their research has found that eggs are packed with nutrients and proteins. What’s more, they found that one of the key components of egg whites – a peptide – can be just as powerful as medication in reducing blood pressure.

The researchers presented their work at the American Chemical Society‘s national meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, at which they reported the peptide appeared to work in the same way as ACE (Angiotensin-Converting-Enzyme) inhibitors such as Captopril.

They said the 50mg of the RVPSL peptide appeared to have the same affect as 10mg of Captopril.

These findings back up a recent study from the University of Alberta in Canada, which revealed that proteins in eggs can prevent the narrowing of blood vessels in the body, while researchers at the University of Missouri discovered that eggs are the best way to control appetite.

Common sense is still needed, however, as the blood pressure lowering effects of egg may be outweighed if it is served as part of a cheese smothered bacon omelette!

Unseasonal weather may pose risk to hypertension suffers

spring-not-foundAccording to research published in the April issue of Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association, blood pressure may be affected both by environmental factors such as ambient personal temperature and the number of daylight hours.

The study found that for every increase of 1C (1.8F) in “personal-level environmental temperature” (temperature measured close to the patient) was associated with a 0.14mmHg drop in average daytime systolic blood pressure.

It also found that for every hour of extra daylight experienced, the average nighttime systolic blood pressure rose by 0.63mmHg

Both relationships were statistically significant only for those patients who were on antihypertensive drugs.

The researchers noted that normally the rise in blood pressure due to the increase in daylight hours from winter to summer is balanced against the reduction in blood pressure due to increasing air temperatures.

However, the unseasonably cold weather so far this Spring may be upsetting this balance, putting Hypertension suffers at greater risk of higher blood pressure.

The researchers wrote, “Monitoring the antihypertensive treatment in elderly patients under conditions of unstable and often extreme temperature exposures is, thus, further supported by our data, especially in the light of the debate on the possible effects on health of current world climate change.”

The study involved 1,897 patients who were referred to Italian hypertension clinics and who underwent ambulatory blood pressure monitoring accompanied by a measurement of personal-level environmental temperature.

The average age of patients was 63 and two thirds were receiving antihypertensive drugs.

Lower Blood Pressure With A Stress Ball

a stress ball can help lower blood pressureHigh blood pressure is a major problem which affects approximately one in three people worldwide and is responsible for around a quarter of all deaths recorded.

For most people, a diagnosis of high blood pressure means a lifetime of medication, constant uncertainty and worry about their future.

But once your GP has your blood pressure is under control, there are plenty of things you can do to take control back and lower blood pressure naturally.

Today, we want to tell you about how the humble stress ball - that long ridiculed executive toy – could actually help lower blood pressure and save your life.

You see, a growing number of studies are showing that Isometric Resistance Exercise can be very effective at lowering high blood pressure.

Isometric resistance is a fancy way of covering exercises where you squeeze or grip something – such as a hand grip or stress ball.

More research is needed, but it looks like both isometric handgrip training and isometric leg training could result in larger reductions in Systolic Blood Pressure and a trend toward lower Diastolic Blood Pressure than aerobic exercise or weight training.

So, doing the exercise below twice a day for 6 weeks could have an even greater ability to lower blood pressure than a few sessions in the gym.

Here’s how to use a stress ball to lower blood pressure

  • Get yourself a ‘stress ball’. This can be any small ball you can squeeze (a tennis ball is ideal), or you can get yourself some purpose designed therapy balls.
  • Put the ball in one hand and hold a squeeze for 90 seconds.
  • Now switch to the other hand and again, hold a squeeze for 90 seconds.
  • Repeat this exercise three times for each hand.

Note that we say ‘hold a squeeze’. That’s because you want to squeeze once and hold that squeeze for the full 90 seconds. The aim is to apply consistent pressure and hold it.

You can also do this exercise with hand grips. If you do, make sure you adjust them so that you can hold the squeeze for the full 90 seconds without needing to let go.

Do this exercise twice a day for 6 weeks and see what a difference it makes. And if you feel you need a little extra help to take control of your blood pressure, our network of Certified Hypnotension Practitioners will be pleased to help.

Beetroot found to lower high blood pressure

Beetroot juice can lower blood pressure

Drinking beetroot juice can lower blood pressure, study shows

Drinking beetroot juice may help reduce high blood pressure, according to a new study.

Researchers found that a glass of beetroot juice lowered systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) by around 5mmHg in a small group of healthy men.

“It’s promising that we can see an effect from a single dose,” says researcher Leah Coles, PhD, research fellow at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia. “That effect might be even greater over the long term if they are drinking it day upon day.”

This is the first study to isolate the effects of beetroot juice from other blood pressure treatments, and results showed blood pressure reducing for six hours after drinking the beetroot juice, and with the largest reduction occurring in men.

Experts suggest the high concentration of nitrates in beetroot is responsible for the blood pressure lowering benefits.

Nitrate rich foods, like beetroot and leafy green vegetables are converted to nitric oxide within the body. The nitric oxide lowers blood pressure by relaxing and dilating blood vessels.

Although more research is needed on the long term use of nitrates, a diet rich leafy green vegetables, is recommended as part of the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, which has been proven to lower blood pressure naturally.

Rob Woodgate, spokesperson for the Hypnotension Programme, said, “This research highlights the effect that foods can have on blood pressure – in this case, in a helpful way – and adds to the great number of things people can do to lower blood pressure naturally.”