Five Summer Foods to Lower Blood Pressure

Last week we wrote about how the summer sun affects your blood pressure, but what about seasonal food?

Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries

It’s a little late for Wimbledon strawberries and cream, but you may want to make an exception.
Berries are rich in flavonoid, which can improve blood flow as blood vessels relax.


The Instagram lovers favourite is packed with potassium, an important mineral for helping your kidneys filter fluids from the blood, which in turn lowers blood pressure.


Famously (and incorrectly) known for containing fewer calories than it takes to digest, celery isn’t the go-to food of choice for most.

Celery does, however, contain NBP (phthalates) which can also relax artery walls and boost blood flow.
A study found a -1.9 mmHg drop when eating 92 grams of celery a day for those aged 40-59.


Josh Axe, a clinical nutritionist, says eating this herb will cut your blood pressure reading.

As well as having a positive role in modulating gut activity, but its diuretic effect on the body can be very helpful to those with high blood pressure.

Leafy greens

34 studies have shown eating 240-960mg of magnesium a day lowered blood pressure after 3 months.

The problem here though is that you’ll need 1.5kg of greens to get that amount of magnesium. So, it may be an idea to add other sources of magnesium such as nuts, dark chocolate and supplements.


That said, there are other aspects to consider.

Being more active day to day, overall diet and other lifestyle choices (smoking, drinking etc.) all have an effect on blood pressure and the health of your heart.

The terrifying fact of the sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is it can strike even the healthiest and otherwise healthy explorers without warning.
Without a defibrillator minutes away, your chances of surviving SCA is virtually none.

You wouldn’t work in a building without a fire extinguisher, so why spend 1/3 of your day without a defibrillator on hand?

New Study: More young footballers are dying from heart problems

20 years of heart screening data, taken from footballers aged 16 on the verge of turning pro, has shown that most died about seven years after a heart check that showed no problem.

As a result, the FA has increased the number of cardiac assessments for young footballers from one to three

Cameroonian international Marc-Vivien Foé, 28, played in the Premier League. The midfielder collapsed while playing for his country against Colombia in France during the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup. An autopsy found he had a hereditary heart condition.

Bolton Wanderers star Fabrice Muamba, 23, had a cardiac arrest on the pitch during an FA Cup tie against Tottenham Hotspur and nearly died.

Sanjay Sharma, professor of inherited diseases and sports cardiology at St George’s University of London and chair of the expert cardiac committee of the Football Association, led the data review.

The results found a death rate of one in 14,700 rather than the previous estimates of one in 200,000.

Between 1997 and 2016, more than 11,000 players filled in a health questionnaire and were given a physical examination, 12-lead ECG and echocardiography. Of these players, 42 (0.38%) had cardiac diseases that could cause sudden cardiac death. Hardly any had symptoms of any sort.

Footballers are among some of the fittest athletes in the world. Their fitness regime, diet and lifestyle are all carefully considered and programmed by teams of specialists.

How does your lifestyle stack up in comparison to these athletes, who are at risk of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA)?

If the worst should happen, is there an AED within 10 minutes of where you are right now? Without that, your chances of survival are around 1%.

Martek Lifecare’s Lifeline is the world’s simplest AED to use – exactly what’s needed in an emergency situation.

Click here for more information on Lifeline.

Summer of love: How the sun is affecting your blood pressure

Think the summer sun is affecting your blood pressure? You’re right.

Sunny day
The sun is effecting your blood pressure – for the better!

I think you’ll agree that this has been the best summer in a long time. Farmers may disagree (they want a little more rain you see), but I bet you don’t have enough fingers to count the number of BBQ’s you’ve has this summer (7 days in a row is my current record).

But what’s the effect on our body from this prolonged period of glorious weather?

Most would assume that blood pressure rises, also known as hypertension, with the heat. But, it would appear the opposite happens, and blood pressure actually lowers, known as hypotension.

Research from the Universities of Southampton and Edinburgh revealed sunlight alters the level of nitric oxide (NO), a small messenger molecule, in the skin and blood; reducing blood pressure.

Martin Feelisch, Professor of Experimental Medicine and Integrative Biology at the University of Southampton reported: “NO along with its breakdown products, known to be abundant in skin, is involved in the regulation of blood pressure. When exposed to sunlight, small amounts of NO are transferred from the skin to the circulation, lowering blood vessel tone; as blood pressure drops, so does the risk of heart attack and stroke.”

The study suggests that UVA exposure:

  • Dilates blood vessels
  • Significantly lowers blood pressure
  • Alters NO metabolite levels in circulation.

Essentially, good news for your heart.

Blood pressure
Direct sun light lowers your blood pressure – great news for your heart.

UV or not UV?

It seems this is very much a case of balance. You’re well aware of the dangers from skin cancer from excessive exposure to UVA – I’m not for a second suggesting ditching the Piz Buin – but by completely avoiding sunlight or permanently wearing high factor sun block could play a role in raising your blood pressure.

Professor Feelisch adds: “These results are significant to the ongoing debate about potential health benefits of sunlight and the role of Vitamin D in this process. 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. Perhaps with the exception of bone health, the effects of oral vitamin D supplementation have been disappointing.

Let’s sun-a-rise

Awful puns aside, we do have some practical tips for health benefits.

  • Aim to get 10-20 minutes of direct sunlight a day
  • Ensure you use sun cream, but avoid sunblock if you can (seek medical advice)
  • In winter, aim to do the same with a 10 min brisk walk to lower blood pressure

Obviously, the above need to be used in line with a healthy lifestyle, including nutrition and exercise.

If nutrition is a concern, we have a nutritional expert hosting a free webinar which you’ll definitely learn something from – click here to sign up.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest on Board Flights

Now Boarding Flight 907 – With a 10% chance of sudden cardiac arrest survival

It’s been estimated that 1000 people die during commercial flights each year. Sudden Cardiac Arrest can strike at any time.

The number of medical emergencies on flights has risen in recent years, mainly due to more and more of us jetting off each year to switch off from the real world.

Right now, there are 660,000 people in the air. With medical emergencies reported at a frequency of 1 in 10-40,000 passengers, that’s 16-66 people at risk this very moment.

“I did ask for a defibrillator…and it was quite a surprise this wasn’t there”

Emergency on board

In 2017, Alan Bourne boarded his Jet2 flight to Birmingham from Majorca. Shortly before take-off, Alan suffered a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). Despite trained staff performing CPR, Alan couldn’t be saved.

A passenger noted how Alan appeared to have been on holiday with his family, and that “it took quite a while for the ambulance to turn up”.

Davina Tavener was travelling with Ryanair to Lanzarote with her husband and two children. Her husband became concerned when Davina failed to return from the toilet, where it was discovered she had collapsed.

A consultant surgeon was on board, and along with staff attempted to revive Davina, with no success. Clare Garnset, a consultant breast surgeon at the Royal Bolton Hospital, said

“I did ask for a defibrillator, because if it’s a cardiac issue that’s the best chance of survival, and it was quite a surprise this wasn’t there”.

Coroner Alan Walsh spoke at the enquiry, stating:
“I don’t believe there is any difference between short-haul flights and long-haul flights. It takes a second to have a cardiac event and sadly cardiac events don’t choose whether they are 10 minutes into a flight or 10 hours into a flight.

“If you are, by the nature of air travel, trapped in aircraft without access to any other facility, the authorities need to consider the equipment to be carried on those airlines, whether it’s short haul or long haul.”

First aid cardiopulmonary resuscitation course using automated external defibrillator device, AED.
First aid cardiopulmonary resuscitation course using automated external defibrillator device, AED.

No current regulation

The first airline to carry defibrillators was British Caledonian in 1986. Some UK-based current airlines carry AEDs, including Virgin, British Airways and easyJet. There is currently no requirement for all airlines to carry defibrillators, unlike their American counterparts who have FAA regulation on automated external defibrillators (AEDs) since 2001.

It takes a second to have a cardiac event and sadly cardiac events don’t choose whether they are 10 minutes into a flight or 10 hours into a flight.

Last week, we wrote about the rules surrounding AEDs in UK schools. It would seem that more and more industries are becoming aware of the danger from SCA, but regulation is some way off.

AEDs are simple and easy to use. The Lifeline AED has been purposely designed to be operated without training and can even be used by a child.

With the ever-present danger of SCA, you need to be prepared with effective equipment in the workplace. Often too far from professional medical aid, the Lifeline AED could be the difference between life and death.

Put a price on the safety of yourself, your family and colleagues here.

270 lives: CPR & AED training should be part of the national teaching curriculum

This year, in the UK, 270 children will die from Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) at school.

With this figure in mind, it seems obvious that any measure to reduce that number should be implemented immediately.

Which is why the recent announcement by the Department for Education (DfE) has been welcomed by The British Heart Foundation (BHF) and British Red Cross.

Due to roll out in 2020 across Secondary schools in England, the DfE plan to have CPR and treatment for other common injuries as part of the national curriculum. Primary school children will be included to, with plans to teach basic first aid and steps to support the health and wellbeing of others.

Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the BHF, said: “Adding CPR to the curriculum in England will mark a defining moment in improving the UK’s shockingly low survival rates from cardiac arrests.

“Less than one in 10 people survive an out of hospital cardiac arrest in the UK, but evidence suggests nearly one in four could survive if all young people are trained with lifesaving CPR skills.”

AED Lacking

This is unarguably a great step forward, but there are other glaringly obvious holes in the UK school system when it comes to SCA:

  • There is currently no mandatory requirement for schools to be equipped with Automated external defibrillators (AEDs)
  • There is a DfE guide explaining how schools should purchase an AED

Considering that fewer than 1 in 10 people survive SCA outside of hospital and the use of an AED in the first 60 seconds of an incident boost survival rates by 90%, CPR training and AED’s installed in all UK schools should be mandatory.

A point backed by South Scotland MSP Emma Harper.
Ms Harper addressed the Scottish Parliament after learning only 4 schools in her region had an AED on site.

Would you want your child in a school which had no fire extinguishers installed?

Judged by 12 or carried by 6 springs to mind

What makes matters worse, the DfE advise schools that they cannot offer any legal advice in the use of AED’s in an incident.

Modern AED’s, such as Martek’s Lifeforce AED, are designed to be used by anybody – trained or untrained:

  • AED is applied using simple illustrations and instructions
  • The AED analyses the patient’s heart rhythm
  • If irregular rhythm is detected, a shock can be administered. If it’s normal, no shock can be delivered.

Between this analysis, CPR (also known as Basic Life Support (BLS)) should be performed in order to keep a supple of oxygen to the brain.

Let’s save lives

Simple training highlighting hand positioning and pressure, along with the use of an AED could see 270 children survive SCA whilst in school – a place where a child’s safety and welfare should be paramount.

Personally, I’ve worked in schools and taught basic first aid to children, young adults and staff. All were keen to learn as they know these simple actions could save a life.

The DfE’s announcement to introduce CPR into the curriculum is a fantastic move, but more needs to be done.

An AED could save the life of you or somebody close to you. Do you have one within 60 seconds of where you are reading this?

Can you prevent a Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

Although Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) can, and unfortunately does affect people from all walks of life, no matter their age, health, race or gender, while there are often no signs or symptoms prior to SCA, there are a few ways you can help reduce the chance of it happening to you!

Living a healthy lifestyle

Eating healthy is a fantastic way to maintain a healthy heart. The foods we eat affect us far more than we think, from our mood, creativity to our health and wellbeing. Maintaining a varied and healthy diet will make all the difference to your heart health. Even if you aren’t motivated to go to the gym at 5am, every single person can make a few small changes to increase their overall health. Exercising regularly is a key factor, even if it’s just a 30-minute walk a few times a week whilst on your lunch break or why not cycle to work, every little bit makes a difference.

Quit Smoking

If you currently smoke, you should look into quitting! Smoking is a leading cause of cardiovascular diseases. Whether it be increasing the chances of Sudden Cardiac Arrest, to contributing towards a strike or other heart diseases. Within the first couple of years of not smoking, you’ve already greatly reduced your chances of heart-related diseases, and after roughly 10 years, you’ll have the exact same chances as a non-smoker!

Visit your GP & know your history!

Visit your local GP for a regular check-up, if you think you may have high blood pressure, diabetes and/or high cholesterol, go and get checked! If so, make sure you treat any conditions, whether it be altering your lifestyle or ensuring you take the required medication when prescribed. If you are still worried, speak to your GP about the possibility of having an ejection fraction to determine if there are any risks. From this, you’ll find out if you have any abnormal heart rhythms, that may potentially trigger life-threating arrhythmias.

Finally, it’s worth finding out about your family history – you may have a history of cardiovascular diseases and could impact your heart!

What changes are you going to make?

How does the UK compare to the rest of the world for SCA?

The unfortunate nature of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) makes it impossible to preemptively guess when it’s going to strike. With no prior symptoms or pre-requisites, SCA is the world’s biggest killer; over 6 million deaths are accounted to per year due to ventricular tachyarrhythmias. The global survival rate is less than 1% worldwide, and around the 7% mark in the UK.

Although there are no symptoms, there are a few things individuals can do to reduce their chance of suffering from an SCA. Over the past few decades, inappropriate diets, lack of exercises and increased smoking rates have all contributed towards the increase in SCA fatalities. To reduce the number of SCA events, awareness around these topics need to be greatly increased.

As mentioned, the 7% survival rate in the UK seems pretty good compared to the 1% globally, however, how does the UK stack up against other developed nations? A worrying statistic, research conducted by Resuscitation Council found that less than half of bystanders in the UK would intervene when they witness someone collapse. A statistic that is substantially lower than figures for other countries & regions with comparable demographics; CPR rate in Norway is 73%, Seattle 66% & North Holland 60%. Which in turn, justifies as to why their survival rates are far higher, 25%, 22% & 21% respectably.

Here in the UK, first aid is not on the national curriculum, meaning children don’t have the opportunity to learn CPR and how to confidently use a defibrillator. Teaching and educating the younger generations of our society to deal knowledgeably and confidently with cardiac emergencies is an investment in the future. This concept has been adopted in Sweden & Denmark and they have had tremendous results.

In 2005, Danish 11-year-olds began mandatory CPR training in School, by 2011, bystander CPR doubled and out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival tripled! Sweden currently invest more in their healthcare than any other country in Europe, with this, exceptional prevention methods have been put in place and survival rates are double what they were 20 years ago.

To make any significant change, the UK needs to dramatically increase its awareness and education on cardiac arrest, the statistics above are far more proof than is ever needed. What do you think needs to change?

Why you need to be pro-active against the world’s biggest killer

Every year in the UK alone, there are 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, of which on average, only 2,100 will survive. Survival rates across the UK sit at the 7% mark. Unfortunately, due to the swift nature of SCA, there are no symptoms, no pre-requisites, it affects everybody from all walks of life. No matter of gender, race, age, fitness and health, Sudden Cardiac Arrest can strike anyone. The only proven method of increasing survival chances is early defibrillation & effective CPR. Although defibrillators are becoming a more common sight in public, from leisure centres, town halls, gyms to workplaces and businesses, our fatality percentage is far behind other developed nations.

In Holland, 65% of the time a defibrillator has been used on a patient before the emergency services have arrived. The average UK ambulance time is 11 minutes, with every minute that passes, the chance of survival is reduced by 10%, it doesn’t bare well for always relying on emergency services. In ideal conditions, defibrillation needs to be used on the victim within the first minute for maximal survival chances, within the first three minutes, chances raise more than tenfold from 7% to 74%.

Even more staggering, a recent study found that 52% of UK businesses have never considered buying or bought a life-saving defibrillator. Unfortunately, the reality is that purchases of AED’s are often prompted due to previous cardiac arrest events. With over 100 cases of workplace cardiac arrests every week, 93 will be fatal. That’s 93 lives that could be have been saved had a defibrillator been in place. We have legislation for fire extinguishers in our workplace. In 2014, there were 17 fatalities from workplace fires. That’s less than the equivalent of two days of cardiac arrest fatalities.

Call us today on 01709 599 222 or email us at for a free consultation.

Don’t wait until it’s too late, act upon the world’s biggest killer now!


Does an ambulance really make a difference in the event of a Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

Sudden Cardiac Arrest is the UK’s biggest killer, accounting for over 100,000 deaths every year in the UK. The unfortunate nature of SCA is its ability to strike anybody at any time. It doesn’t favour the old, unfit and unhealthy. There are roughly 15 young people every week who die from SCA, the need for more informed public awareness and what to do in the situation of SCA is vital to reducing the fatalities.

The swift nature of SCA causes the high number of fatalities. Even if you are 5 minutes from your nearest hospital, unfortunately, chances are you still won’t be close enough to receive effective treatment for sudden cardiac arrest. Every minute without treatment reduces the chance of survival by 10%. By the time you’ve rung, and the ambulance has arrived, chances are it’s too late. On average in the UK, only 7% of victims of sudden cardiac arrest survive.

UK Ambulance services are expected to reach 75% of Red 1 calls within 8 minutes, on average, the response time is 11 minutes. You do the maths, 10% survival chance reduced every minute without treatment doesn’t bare well. Defibrillation is the only proven method to help increase the chances of survival, so much so that if one is used within the first 60 seconds, the chances of survival increase from 7% to over 90%.

Chew Valley nicknamed ‘Death Valley’ in northern Somerset, is the UK’s least accessible area, leading to emergency service response times be the longest in the country. With multiple patients having to wait up to 5 times the average response time for medical treatment. In one case, an elderly individual was left for three hours with no treatment. When it comes to Sudden Cardiac Arrest, the speed and effectiveness of the treatment is key, waiting for more than a matter of minutes will be fatal.

Thankfully, AEDs are becoming more readily accessible to the public, located at leisure centres, schools, libraries, town halls and many more places. Unfortunately, however, the survival rates are still far below what they should be at. To name just a few nations, the USA, Norway & Holland have dramatically higher survival rates. 65% of the time, an AED has been used on a victim before the emergency services have even arrived.

Knowing where your local defibrillator is the difference between life and death. Find out where your nearest defibrillator is, how to access it and ensure it works.

Defibrillators in the Workplace: Surely you have one by now…?

In a recent survey conducted by leading workplace products and services supplier, Direct365, it has been found that a substantial number of UK businesses are not even considering the purchase of an onsite Automated External Defibrillator (AED), let alone have one on-site. A staggering 52% of businesses have never considered buying or bought a life-saving defibrillator.

There are approximately 30,000 out-of-hospital Sudden Cardiac Arrests every year in the UK, with survival rates on average at 7%. AED’s are vital in cardiac arrest events as they’re the only proven method to increase the chance of survival. If used within the first 3 minutes, chances increase tenfold, from 7% to 74%.

Although the UK currently has no legislation requiring organisations, to install and maintain an AED unit: multiple governing bodies have issued guidance and urged that defibrillators should be made available in all public access facilities.

Approximately, 100 cases of Sudden Cardiac Arrest occur in the workplace every week, that’s 93 fatalities a week that could be saved with the use of a defibrillator. Begging the question, why do so many businesses overlook and ignore the purchase of such an important life-saving equipment? We have legislation for fire extinguishers in our workplaces. In 2014, there were 17 fatalities from workplace fires. The equivalent of one and a half days’ worth of cardiac arrest fatalities.

Unfortunately, the reality is that purchases of AED’s for the workplace are often prompted due to a previous workplace cardiac arrest.  There is often a misconception, that cardiac arrests are the for elderly, the unfit and the overweight, however, cardiac arrest affect everybody from every walk of life, with 15 fatalities every week of young people.

Whether you are looking for a new life-saving defibrillator, upgrade your existing one or refresh yourself and your employee’s first aid training call Martek Lifecare today. Call us today on 01709 599 222 or email us at for a free consultation!

Don’t wait until it’s too late, act upon the world’s biggest killer now.