High blood pressure: The temperature of your bath could cause your reading to fluctuate

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High blood pressure affects a third of adults in the UK, and is considered a major cause of premature death worldwide. The condition generally features pounding sensations in the head, lightheadedness and dizziness. While health experts worldwide have focused on divulging the effects of diet on blood pressure, a study in Japan found that even the temperature of your daily bath could could cause your blood reading to fluctuate.

Doctor Adolph Hutter, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said: “The high temperatures in a warm tub or sauna cause your blood vessels to dilate, which lowers blood pressure.

“People who are in their 70s and older whose blood pressure is on the low side also should be extra careful.

“A water temperature of 100 degrees F (38C) to 105 degrees F is reasonable.

“Get in gradually, so your body can accommodate gradually.”

Hot water, which is defined as having a temperature of, or above, 41C may cause the blood pressure to dip too low, which can cause dizziness and light-headedness.

Low blood readings, Doctor Hutter explained, refers to blood pressure with systolic pressure falling around 110mmHg or lower.

Systolic pressure is measured when the heart contracts, and forces blood through the arteries.

Alternatively, when the heart is at rest between beats, blood pressure falls to its lowest values, known as diastolic pressure.

While hot baths are generally safe for individuals with healthy hearts or even mild heart failure, those with poorly controlled blood pressure should avoid them.

Heart health

Hot baths have been proven beneficial for various heart complications.

A Japanese study followed more than 30,000 people over the course of 20 years.

At the outset of the study, participants were required to answer questionnaires about their general health and bathing habits, including their preferred temperatures (lukewarm, warm or hot).

The cohort was thereafter divided into three groups: those who took baths two or fewer times a week; those who bathed three to four times a week; or those who bathed daily or almost daily.

About 72 percent of participants said they took baths almost daily.

The findings of the study revealed that those who took baths nearly every day had a 28 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 26 lower risk of stroke.

The findings were adjusted after the researchers accounted for underlying factors including heart health, diet, exercise and smoking habits.

According to the British Heart Foundation, symptoms of high blood pressure include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Nosebleeds
  • Headaches

Certain lifestyle choices can raise the risk of high blood pressure, such as eating foods high in sodium.

The NHS notes: “Salt raises your blood pressure. The more salt you eat, the higher your blood pressure. Aim to eat less than 6grams of salt a day, which is a teaspoonful.”

Studies have identified excessive body fat as one of the dominant predisposing factors to blood pressure elevations.

Therefore eating a diet rich in wholegrain, fruit, vegetables and low-fat dairy could help lower a blood pressure reading.

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