High blood pressure is prevalent in the UK, with more than one in four people living with the condition, yet many people will not realise it. The condition is often branded the “silent killer” because it usually goes undetected until it is serious. A high blood pressure reading can raise a person’s risk of developing serious complications such as heart disease. Recognising the warning signs can avert the risks – one sign involves frequent trips to the toilet at night, according to results from the Watari study presented at the 83rd Annual Scientific Meeting of the Japanese Circulation Society (JCS 2019).
If you continue to have nocturia, ask your doctor to check your blood pressure and salt intake
Dr Satoshi Konno, study author
“Our study indicates that if you need to urinate in the night – called nocturia – you may have elevated blood pressure and/or excess fluid in your body,” said study author Dr Satoshi Konno, of the Division of Hypertension, Tohoku Rosai Hospital, Sendai, Japan.
Dr Konno added: “If you continue to have nocturia, ask your doctor to check your blood pressure and salt intake.”
Previous research from Japan has reported that high salt intake is associated with nocturia.
Compared to western countries, people in Japan eat more salt and are more likely to be “salt sensitive,” meaning that their blood pressure rises more when salt is consumed.
Taken together, these two factors mean that people in Japan are at greater risk of developing high blood pressure.
This study examined the link between nocturia and hypertension in the general Japanese population.
The study enrolled 3,749 residents of Watari who had an annual health check in 2017.
Blood pressure was measured and information on nocturia was obtained by questionnaire.
Participants with blood pressure 140/90 mmHg or higher or prescribed antihypertensive drugs were considered hypertensive.
Nocturia (one or more nocturia events per night) was significantly associated with hypertension after controlling for possible confounders.
The risk of hypertension rose significantly as the number of nocturia events per night increased.
“We found that getting up in the night to urinate was linked to a 40 per cent greater chance of having hypertension,” said Dr Konno. “And the more visits to the toilet, the greater the risk of hypertension.”
Of the 1,882 participants who answered the questionnaire, 1,295 (69 per cent) had nocturia.
Dr Konno said the results do not prove a causal relationship between nocturia and hypertension and may not apply to populations outside Japan.
He said: “The relationship may be influenced by various factors including lifestyle, salt intake, ethnicity, and genetic background.”
Although symptoms of high blood pressure are typically uncommon, if people experience a hypertensive crisis, noticeable signs may appear.
According to the Mayo Clinic: “A hypertensive crisis is a severe increase in blood pressure that can lead to a stroke.”
Signs and symptoms of a hypertensive crisis that may be life-threatening may include:
- Severe chest pain
- Severe headache, accompanied by confusion and blurred vision
- Nausea and vomiting
- Severe anxiety
- Shortness of breath
Fortunately, steps can be taken to reduce the risk of high blood pressure.
As the NHS explained: “High blood pressure can often be prevented or reduced by eating healthily, maintaining a healthy weight, taking regular exercise, drinking alcohol in moderation and not smoking.”
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