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High blood pressure: The ‘unexpected blood pressure drug’ that may help lower your reading

High blood pressure isn’t a trend you want to follow. In fact, most people would like to lower theirs. One “unexpected blood pressure drug” could lead to a surprising insight.

Researchers from Vanderbilt University Medical Centre have made an interesting finding.

Cited in the academic journal Circulation, they recognised that one surprising factor could increase a person’s blood pressure.

They found that, on average, 16 ounces of tap water raised blood pressure by 40mmHg in patients with autonomic nervous system failure.


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This increase in blood pressure began two to three minutes after water was ingested.

And blood pressure results rapidly increased 15 minutes after consuming water.

Blood pressure only began to decrease an hour afterwards, but drinking even more water caused the blood pressure effect to be sustained for another hour.

What’s autonomic nervous system failure?

The National Library of Medicine explained autonomic nervous system failure referred to disturbances of the nervous system.

To elaborate, involuntary actions are affected, such as the heart beat, the widening or narrowing of blood vessels, and blood pressure problems.

The effect of water on blood pressure readings were also tested on healthy older individuals.

Again, blood pressure readings increased, albeit only by 11mmHg this time.

It was found that the higher the water intake, the larger the increase in blood pressure.

Dr John Shannon, instructor of Medicine and Pharmacology, had a few words to say about water raising blood pressure results.

He said: “As physicians, we may ask our hypertensive [high blood pressure] patients if they just drank a cup of coffee or smoked a cigarette when we measure their blood pressure, but we would never think to ask if they had anything to drink in the last hour.

“Perhaps we should. It might make the difference in whether or not we adjust their medications.”

He continued: “Water is not just a neutral substance, and it cannot be considered a ‘placebo’ with regards to blood pressure.”


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Dr Jens Jordan, a former postdoctoral fellow in Clinical Pharmacology and lead author of the study, commented on the findings.

He confessed: “We do not know how water raises blood pressure”, but admitted “warm, room temperature, or cold” water still raised blood pressure readings.

Dr Jordan did have a theory, though: “Water might be increasing blood pressure by interacting with osmoreceptors (which sense salt concentrations) or stretch receptors in the stomach or liver.”

Further work is needed to understand why water raises blood pressure in older, healthy individuals.

However, the study does shine a light on the need for physicians to be more investigative when taking blood pressure readings.

This study suggests it would be beneficial if physicians asked their patients whether they’ve drank water up to an hour before being tested.

As shown in the study above, water intake may distort blood pressure readings.

In addition, water intake is a variable that needs to be controlled in short-term studies of drugs that increase or decrease blood pressure.

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