Patients with supine hypertension, a condition that causes their blood pressure to increase when they lie down, may benefit from using a heating pad overnight, according to a study conducted by scientists at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

Supine hypertension is a common problem that affects at least 50% of patients with primary autonomic failure (dysfunction of many of the processes controlled by the autonomic nervous system). The increases of blood pressure during sleep time can damage the heart and kidneys and increase urine production, which can cause a rapid drop of blood pressure upon standing.

The study, presented at the American Heart Association’s Hypertension 2019 Scientific Sessions, included the participation of 10 patients with autonomic failure and supine hypertension, with an average age of 76 years, and who had a systolic (upper number) blood pressure of 168 mm Hg measured in the lying position.

During the study, that lasted 2 nights, the patients were applied heat pads of 100 degrees Fahrenheit from a medical grade heating pad placed under their torso on one night, and an unheated pad on the other. Heat therapy was applied from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m, and the supine blood pressure was monitored every two hours from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.

The results showed that the heating therapy decreased systolic blood pressure, with a maximum reduction of 30 mm Hg after four hours of heat; however, it did not decrease nighttime urine production or improve the sudden drop in morning blood pressure.

In many patients with autonomic failure, heat exposure decreases blood pressure by shifting blood to skin vessels,” said Luis E. Okamoto, M.D., study author and research assistant professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. “The use of local, controlled heat therapy may be a novel and simple approach to treat supine hypertension in these patients without using medications; however, additional studies are needed to assess the long-term safety and efficacy of this approach.”


Source: Science Daily