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High Blood Pressure

Water pills

03/12/2007

Question:

Does it defeat the purpose to drink a lot of water right after taking a water pill? I am 35 years with high blood pressure and I drink a lot of water in the morning.

Answer:

Water pills work by increasing the excretion of salt by the kidney.  The volume of circulating blood (and your blood pressure) is determined by the total amount of salt in your system.  Water has no direct effect.  Water pills at the proper dose do not interfere with the kidney's ability to excrete water.

For that reason, you cause no harm by drinking a lot of water.  On the other hand, eating a lot of salt can overcome the beneficial effect of water pills and can increase you blood pressure.

To be precise, water pills should be called "salt-excretion pills".  At the beginning of therapy, the effect of a water pill is to increase both salt AND water output.  For that reason, they are known as water pills.

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Response by:

Max C Reif, MD Max C Reif, MD
Professor of Medicine
Director of Hypertension Section
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati