Water may prevent some fainting spells

ORLANDO, Sept. 26 Drinking about 16 oz. of water may help prevent healthy people from fainting due to standing or after donating blood, according to two reports presented today at the American Heart Association's 56th Annual High Blood Pressure Research Conference.

"Prolonged standing, especially in a warm environment, leads to occasional fainting, even in healthy people," says Christoph Schroeder, M.D., of Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany, first author on one report. "Our results show that drinking water right beforehand improves the ability to stand and may help prevent fainting."

Both groups studied healthy people without a history of fainting to follow up earlier research at Vanderbilt University. That research had shown that drinking water reduced the likelihood of fainting in people with malfunctioning autonomic nervous systems.

Such people are prone to pass out when they stand up. The autonomic nervous system regulates body functions that are not consciously controlled, including heart rate and blood pressure.

"As we considered that finding, it occurred to us that there is a big problem with people passing out after giving blood," says David Robertson, M.D., senior author of the other report. "We believe that around 150,000 people a year faint or experience near-fainting after blood donations, and many of those people never give blood again.

"We wondered if water might help prevent fainting in healthy people who donate blood," adds Robertson, a professor of medicine, pharmacology, and neurology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn.

Both teams conducted their research in a similar manner, which involved using tilt-table testing. In that test, a person lies on a bed-like platform parallel to the floor. The bed is then titled upward so the head is above the feet. Both teams titled the tables so the person was at a 60 degree angle, two-thirds of the way between lying flat and standing upright.<

Contact: Maggie Francis
American Heart Association

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