Water and High Blood Pressure
What You Should Know
by Jessica Hegg

blood pressure diagramDehydration can contribute to high blood pressure, as well as to low blood pressure.

If you are over the age of 18 and live in the U.S., chances are you or someone you know experience high blood pressure (hypertension).

According to the Centers for Disease Control, roughly 1 out of 3 adults has high blood pressure, making it a public health challenge that deserves considerable concern.

What Exactly Is High Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure at its core is simply the force at which your heart pumps blood through the arteries and blood vessels around your body.

High blood pressure is indicated when your average blood pressure readings overtime exceed “normal” levels (or creep over 140/90).

The top number of a blood pressure reading, systolic, represents the force at which your blood is pumping when your heart beats. The bottom number, diastolic, represents the force at which your blood is pumping in between beats.

A healthy adult will experience a blood pressure in the range of 90 to 120 over 60 to 80 depending on their age, activity level, fitness, and health condition.

Rates of hypertension climb as you age as well - about 65 percent of adults over 60 experience hypertension according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Why Is High Blood Pressure Dangerous?

Think about it, if your body is constantly having to use a great amount of force to circulate blood (and thus nutrients, oxygen, etc), it’s placing unnecessary stress on the heart and the vascular system.

Over time the heart can become weaker, blood vessels can become damaged allowing plaque to build up, and essentially all your organs will experience undue stress.

High blood pressure is one of the leading risk factors for heart disease and stroke, and is largely preventable through a healthy diet and routine exercise. Risk factors for high blood pressure include:

  • Being overweight or obese 
  • Race (African-Americans more likely to develop hypertension than Caucasians or Hispanics)
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Eating too much sodium
  • Not consuming enough potassium
  • Family history of hypertension
  • Sex (men are more likely to have high blood pressure before 55, women after 55)

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. for men and women (1 in 4 die for heart disease), killing over 600,000 people every single year.

Water and High Blood Pressure

There are a couple interesting correlations between hydration and blood pressure, but first, you need to understand what makes up the blood flowing through your veins.

A mixture of red blood cells (carry oxygen), white blood cells (fight infection), platelets (helps blood clot), and plasma (carries nutrients, protein, hormones) all combine into what we know as “blood.” And guess what?

Ninety-two percent of all your blood is comprised of water molecules!

Hydration plays an important role in helping your body’s cells do all the things they need to do to keep you alive and kickin’. 

You know how NASA is always looking for “water” as a sign of life on distant planets? That is because water is essential for cell life, for transporting nutrients and oxygen, for chemical reactions, for temperature regulation, and for your ability to excrete waste and toxins.

How Does Hydration Affect Blood Pressure?

When you are dehydrated, your cells are literally starved of the water they need to carry out these vital bodily functions.

Not enough water in your cells means your blood volume goes down, allowing for more blood to flow through your vessels with less force. Hence, your blood pressure can drop.

On the opposite side, dehydration can also contribute to high blood pressure. When you do not consume enough water, your body does everything it can to supply water to cells to keep things running smoothly. This means retaining fluids and limiting your kidney’s ability to filter water out into your bladder.

What should happen when you drink water is that it should travel into your stomach and through your intestines to be absorbed into your bloodstream. Excess water in the bloodstream is filtered out through the kidneys via osmosis. 

Osmosis is the neat process wherein water is pulled through semi-permeable membranes of cells in the blood stream and diverted into a channel that flows into the bladder.

Your body needs potassium and sodium to facilitate osmosis successfully. Too much or too little of either throws off the delicate balance of water and salt your body relies on.

When you have too much sodium in your blood stream and you start retaining fluids, it overloads the kidneys and stresses out the vascular system, heart, and other organs. Unable to remove excess water means an increase in blood volume and therefore an increase in blood pressure.

Sodium consumption (via table salt) is a pervasive problem, especially in Western cultures where an average Big Mac with fries from McDonalds, for example, can contain your entire day’s worth of sodium. 

On average, Americans consume 2 to 3 times as much salt every day as they should according to the World Health Organization. Combined with insufficient potassium intake and chronic dehydration, you have a recipe for widespread instances of high blood pressure.

Self-Monitoring and High Blood Pressure

If you are prehypertensive or have been diagnosed with hypertension, tracking your blood pressure regularly from home is possible with a reliable blood pressure monitor.  See best digital bp monitor for home use here.

In addition to self-monitoring, staying properly hydrated can play an important role in lowering or reversing a high blood pressure trend.

Of course, getting routine moderate-intensity exercise, limiting sodium intake, eating an abundance of plant-based foods, and making sure you get enough potassium are also key factors.


Further reading

Drinking Enough Water Daily Is the Foundation of Health


Return from Water and High Blood Pressure to Health Benefits of Drinking Water


Guest contributor Jessica Hegg is the content manager at ViveHealth.com. Avid gym-rat and nutrition enthusiast, she’s interested in all things related to staying active and living a healthy lifestyle.



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