How Does Dehydration Cause High Blood Pressure?
Understanding dehydration and high blood pressure start with focusing on the aorta. The aorta is the large blood vessel that the blood enters when it leaves the heart. The aorta bends (aortic arch) just after leaving the heart to send the blood to the lower part of the body as depicted here. The bending of the aorta plays a key role in high blood pressure. Thinking of this complex concept in terms of oatmeal really makes it easy to understand.
The Oatmeal Analogy for High Blood Pressure
In this analogy, the oats represent the cells and other things floating in your blood. The water used to cook the oatmeal represents the liquid (serum) portion of your blood. If you cook oatmeal with plenty of water in the pot, you can turn the bowl of oatmeal upside down and the oatmeal will run out of the bowl. Why? Because gravity is strong enough to pull the oatmeal from the bowl. If you put too little water in the pot when cooking the oatmeal causing the spoon to be to able to stand in it, the oatmeal will not run out of the bowl when you turn it upside down. Why? Because gravity is not strong enough to pull the thick oatmeal from the bowl.
This is what can happen with your blood when you do not drink enough water and become significantly dehydrated. If you drink enough water you thin your blood. When the heart squeezes and pushes the blood that is as thin as it should be up into the aorta, gravity can easily pull the blood down out of the aorta where the aorta bends. However, if you don’t drink enough water and end up dehydrated, your blood will thicken. In this case, the heart must work harder using increased pressure to push the thick blood into the aorta. Once the heart squeezes and pushes the thick blood up into the aorta, gravity is unable to pull the blood down out of the aorta where the aorta bends.
Thick Blood & Increased Blood Pressure
The heart using increased pressure to push and squeeze the blood into the aorta is synonymous to increased or high blood pressure. Since gravity is not strong enough to pull thickened blood down out of the aorta, the muscles of the blood vessels have to begin squeezing to push the blood down. The muscles have to keep squeezing to help push the blood all the way down to your feet. Each time these muscles squeeze, they increase the pressure inside the blood vessels. If the extra pressure exerted by the heart and muscles of the blood vessels increases enough, you develop what is diagnosed as high blood pressure. With this in mind, think about what it would take to decrease this increased or high blood pressure. It would simply be a matter of thinning the thick blood. This is why doctors will prescribe blood thinners like warfarin. However, based on what you just read, wouldn’t drinking more water be the best way to do that! Keep in mind that if your water level gets low enough, the blood pressure can switch to being too low causing major problems.
Now, you might be wondering why people drink less water than they need. At Optimum Health, we have found that a protein deficiency is the main reason. Our clients simply correct their protein deficiency and they begin to crave water and drink a lot of it. Then they can say,
“I can keep up with my children again.
My blood pressure stays normal!”
Gloria C, Richmond, Virginia
“I feel wonderful. I can walk long distances again and my
blood pressure sits right at 121/80.”
Valerie G, Richmond, Virginia
Thick Blood and Increased Systolic Blood Pressure
The top number of your blood pressure is your systolic blood pressure. This tells you the pressure inside your blood vessels when your heart is squeezing. Have you noticed that only your systolic blood pressure is elevated? Well, the oatmeal analogy can help with understanding this also.
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