Jun 02, 2023


Can Dehydration Cause High Blood Pressure?

Old man drinking water

High blood pressure (hypertension) is a prevalent health condition that affects about one-third of the world's adult population. It's often called the "silent killer" because it usually has no symptoms but can lead to serious health problems if left untreated, like heart attack, stroke, and heart failure. 

Many factors can contribute to hypertension, such as obesity and genetics. But what role does dehydration play in high blood pressure?

 In this blog post, we will explore how dehydration can cause high blood pressure and what you can do to prevent it.

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What is high blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of the blood flowing through blood vessels. It's normal for our blood pressure to rise and fall during the day and night. 

However, when your blood pressure is continuously too high, you are at risk for hypertension. 

Symptoms of high blood pressure

As mentioned above, hypertension seldom presents with symptoms. However, when blood pressure reaches severely high levels, it can cause excess pressure on the brain and blood vessels to leak. 

As a result, a person may experience certain symptoms, such as:

  • headache

  • nausea

  • confusion

  • dizziness

  • weakness

  • blurred vision

  • seizures

Treatment options for high blood pressure 

While there is no cure, managing high blood pressure is key to lowering the risk of severe health complications. For many, this includes lifestyle modifications in combination with medication. 

Your healthcare provider may suggest the following to help manage your hypertension:

  • Continuously check and monitor your blood pressure numbers 

  • Maintain a heart-healthy diet and lower salt and sodium intake 

  • Quit smoking

  • Limit alcohol 

  • Move your body daily

  • Improve your sleep habits

  • Lose extra weight

  • Find healthy ways to manage stress

  • Take high blood pressure medication as directed by your doctor

Commonly prescribed hypertension medications include,

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What is dehydration?

Dehydration occurs when your body loses more fluids than it takes in. This can happen due to sweating, diarrhea, vomiting, or simply not drinking enough fluids. 

Symptoms of dehydration

Don't rely on thirst to indicate when your body needs water. Especially as we age, we may not feel thirsty until we're already dehydrated. 

Dehydration affects people of all ages, and the symptoms may vary depending on the age group. Infants and young children may have a dry mouth and tongue, no tears, and sunken eyes or cheeks. Adults may experience extreme thirst, reduced urination, fatigue, dizziness, and confusion. 

What is the link between dehydration and high blood pressure?

Hydration helps to regulate blood flow, maintain electrolyte balance, and regulate body temperature. When we become dehydrated, our body's ability to regulate these functions is compromised, leading to various health problems, including high blood pressure.

When dehydrated, the blood becomes thicker and more dense, requiring more force to pump it through our veins and arteries. This increased resistance can cause blood pressure to rise, leading to hypertension. 

Dehydration can cause the body to produce more stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which can also contribute to high blood pressure.

Research has shown that even mild dehydration can affect blood pressure. A study by the American Journal of Hypertension found that people who consumed less than four cups of water daily were more likely to have high blood pressure than those who drank more water. 

Dehydration and hypertension

Dehydration can also exacerbate existing hypertension. For people with high blood pressure, it is essential to stay well-hydrated to help regulate blood pressure and prevent complications. 

It can also cause blood pressure to spike, increasing the risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney damage in those with hypertension.

How to prevent dehydration 

Hydration is essential for maintaining your body's overall health. One of the most common causes of dehydration is not drinking enough water, so prioritizing your water intake is vital. The general recommendation is to drink at least eight cups of water per day, although this can vary depending on your activity level, climate, and overall health. 

Other ways to stay hydrated include consuming foods with high water content, like fruits and vegetables, and avoiding dehydrating beverages like alcohol and caffeine. 

Other causes of high blood pressure 

It's important to note that dehydration is not the only cause of high blood pressure. Many other factors can contribute to hypertension, including:

  • Genetics

  • A sedentary lifestyle

  • Unmanaged stress

  • Unhealthy eating habits

  • Sleep apnea

  • Diabetes

  • Obesity 

Final thoughts

Dehydration can certainly be a contributing factor to high blood pressure. When your body loses too much fluid, it can decrease blood volume, narrow blood vessels, and an overall increase in blood pressure. 

To prevent dehydration and high blood pressure, drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol, and eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables. 

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