An excess of stomach acid does not cause blood pressure to rise. While high blood pressure, medically termed "hypertension," and heartburn, known as acid reflux, both occur more commonly if you're overweight or obese, one does not cause the other. Stomach acid production normally decreases as you age, while the risk of hypertension increases with age. In one study, people having frequent acid reflux episodes had lower rather than higher blood pressure.
A study conducted by Irish researchers and reported in the April 2008 issue of "BMC Gastroenterology" looked at the connection between acid reflux and hypertension. Researchers found that people in this study with daily acid reflux had lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure, rather than higher, than those without frequent acid reflux.
Causes of Increased Stomach Acid
Stomach acid plays an important role in breaking down food as it enters the stomach and neutralizing potentially harmful bacteria. Parietal cells in the stomach release hydrochloric acid, the best known stomach acid. Excess acid production can contribute to gastritis, stomach inflammation and stomach ulcers, but it doesn't raise blood pressure. If you have acid reflux, stomach acid backwashes into the esophagus due to incomplete closing of valves that keep stomach acid in the stomach.
Causes of Hypertension
In 2010, 33 percent of all adults in the United States over age 20 years had hypertension, blood pressure greater than 140/90 mm/Hg, or millimeters of mercury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Between 85 and 95 percent have essential, or primary hypertension, an often inherited condition caused by minute changes in blood vessels, the Merck Manual Home Health Handbook reports. Diabetes, kidney problems, hormonal issues and medications cause secondary hypertension. Lifestyle issues such as alcohol, smoking, obesity and inactivity increase the risk of hypertension.
Acid reflux and hypertension have many risk factors in common. Obesity, diabetes, smoking and pregnancy can all increase your chances of developing both high blood pressure and acid reflux. Taking steps to reduce these risks can improve both conditions.
Is This an Emergency?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Hypertension; February 2011
- "BMC Gastroenterology"; Inverse Association Between Gastroesophageal Reflux and Blood Pressure: Results of a Large Community Based Study; Liam Murray, et al.; April 2008
- Mayo Clinic; GERD; May 2011
- The Merck Manual Home Health Manual; High Blood Pressure; George L. Bakris, M.D.; April 2007
- Colorado State University; The Parietal Cell: Mechanism of Acid Secretion; R. Bowen; March 2010