International Health News

Drinking water and blood pressure

BERLIN, GERMANY. Orthostatic hypotension (low blood pressure when in the upright position) is a common complication of a failure of the autonomic nervous system. A team of American and German researchers now report that drinking water is an effective way of raising the blood pressure in individuals suffering from orthostatic hypotension brought on by autonomic failure. Their experiment involved 19 patients with severe hypotension and 11 controls. Participants were seated in a chair with their feet on the floor. Blood pressure and heart rate were measured with an automated brachial blood pressure cuff. After 30 minutes of baseline recording each participant drank 480 ml of tap water. About 35 minutes after drinking the water the systolic blood pressure had increased by an average of 11 mm Hg (millimeter of mercury) in both healthy controls and autonomic failure patients. The researchers also observed a significant increase in the blood level of norepinephrine in the healthy individuals about 30 minutes after drinking the water. They conclude that drinking water can provide a rapid relief of symptoms due to orthostatic hypotension in autonomic failure patients. They warn though that drinking water can result in dangerously high blood pressure in patients lying down (supine position). They also conclude that water should be considered to be an active substance rather than a placebo when blood pressure is involved.
Jordan, Jens, et al. A potent pressor response elicited by drinking water. The Lancet, Vol. 353, February 27, 1999, p. 723 (research letter)

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