While many people associate frequent toilet trips at night with old age or incontinence, a new study has revealed it could also be a sign of high blood pressure.
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can damage the body for years without a person being aware, as most people living with high blood pressure don’t present any symptoms at all.
High blood pressure is a serious health concern because it puts strain on the blood vessels, heart, brain, kidneys and eyes and increases the risk of heart disease, heart failure, stroke, aneurysms and kidney disease. Around 6 million Australians and 1 billion people worldwide are said to be living with hypertension.
The new findings from researchers in Japan were presented at the 83rd Annual Scientific Meeting of the Japanese Circulation Society last month and analysed the link between nocturia and hypertension in the general Japanese population.
“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,” study author Dr Satoshi Konno said.
“If you continue to have nocturia, ask your doctor to check your blood pressure and salt intake.”
The study analysed 3,749 participants from the district of Watari who had an annual health check in 2017.
For the study, the blood pressure of each participant was measured and information on nocturia was obtained through a questionnaire. Those with blood pressure at 140/90 mmHg or higher and participants already prescribed antihypertensive drugs were considered hypertensive. Researchers noted getting up at night to urinate was associated with a 40 per cent higher risk of having hypertension.
“The more visits to the toilet, the greater the risk of hypertension,” Konno explained.
The study found 69 per cent of participants who answered the questionnaire had nocturia but that it could also be influenced by other factors such as lifestyle, salt intake, ethnicity, and genetic background. It could also be down to Japan’s high intake of salt.
“The average salt intake in Japan is approximately 10 g/day, which is more than double the average salt intake worldwide (4 g/day),” Mutsuo Harada, Press Coordinator for the Japanese Circulation Society, said. “This excessive salt intake is related to our preference for seafood and soy sauce-based food, so salt restriction is difficult to carry out.”
While researchers acknowledged that early detection and management of hypertension are both important to prevent cardiovascular disease, they also said nocturia is caused by both urinary organ problems and systemic diseases such as hypertension, meaning it could be a symptom of high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is the world’s leading cause of premature death, killing as many as 10 million people in 2015 alone. While medication can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, a healthy lifestyle is also advised. This includes reducing salt intake and drinking alcohol only in moderation, eating healthy, exercising regularly, not smoking and controlling weight.