Sugary Drinks Put on the Pressure

Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages associated with high blood pressure

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Patients with high blood pressure already have to watch their salt intake. Now, new research suggests that they may also have to pay attention to the sugar in their drinks.

In a study involving data from 2,696 patients from the U.S. and U.K., Ian J. Brown, M.D., from Imperial College London, and colleagues found that people who drank the most sugar-sweetened beverages (e.g. soda and fruit juices) had higher blood pressure levels than those who drank less sugar-sweetened beverages.

dailyRx Insight: Sugary drinks (including sugar-added juices) can be really bad for you, but diet drinks are not as bad.

For their study, researchers collected information from urine samples, blood pressure readings, and a questionnaire that asked patients to report on their regular diet over the course of four days.

Brown and colleagues found that increased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages was associated with increases in both systolic (pressure of blood within vessels as the heart contracts) and diastolic (pressure of blood between heartbeats) blood pressure.

The researchers also found that this association was even greater among patients with higher concentrations of sodium in their urine, salt intake being another significant contributor to high blood pressure.

Diet beverages, however, did not appear affect blood pressure.

In light of their findings, the study's authors suggest that health guidelines recommend reducing the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, sugars, and salts among patients with high blood pressure.

High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is associated with obesity, diabetes, and other health complications. Approximately 74.5 million people in the United States have high blood pressure. The overall estimated cost of high blood pressure in 2010 was $76.6 billion.

The best way to deal with high blood pressure is to make significant lifestyle changes. Eating healthy, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, and limiting the amount of alcohol intake can all help improve blood pressure.

Dr. Joseph V. Madia, medical editor at dailyRx, added "It's been well documented that sugary drinks and sodas can lead to obesity and contribute to the development of diabetes. This study's evidence correlates with high blood pressure, just gives more reasons to moderate their intake of sugar."

High blood pressure medications include: angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, and renin inhibitors. The more common ACE inhibitors are captopril (Capoten®), lisinopril (Prinivil®, Zestril®) and ramipril (Altace®). Angiotensin II receptor blockers include losartan (Cozaar®), olmesartan (Benicar®) and valsartan (Diovan®). Beta blockers include metoprolol (Lopressor®, Toprol® XL), nadolol (Corgard®) and penbutolol (Levatol®). Calcium channel blockers include amlodipine (Norvasc®), diltiazem (Cardizem®, Dilacor® XR) and nifedipine (Adalat®, Procardia®). The most common renin inhibitor is aliskiren (Tekturna®).

The study by Brown and colleagues is published in the journal Hypertension.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 7, 2011
Last Updated:
March 9, 2011