Blood pressure is the amount of force required for the heart to circulate blood through the body. Systolic blood pressure represents the maximal blood pressure during systole, and diastolic blood pressure the minimum pressure at the end of ventricular diastole. Arterial blood pressure can be defined hemodynamically as the product of cardiac output and total peripheral resistance. Cardiac output is the main determinant of systolic pressure while peripheral resistance largely determines the level of diastolic pressure.
Under normal physiologic conditions, the blood pressure stays within narrow limits. It may reach a peak during emotional or physical stress, and falls the lowest during sleep. Generally, blood pressure tends to be lower in women than men, it tends to be higher in blacks than whites, and it rises with age. Normal blood pressure is considered to be 130/85. If blood pressure readings taken on two or more subsequent days is 140/90 or higher, then a diagnosis of hypertension can be confirmed.
A team of researchers conducted a study to determine the relationship between sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption and blood pressure among 810 adults, ages 25 to 79, with pre-hypertension (between 120/80 and 139/89 mm Hg) and stage I hypertension (between 140/90 and 159/99 mm Hg ). Sugar-sweetened beverages were defined as drinks sweetened with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup including regular soft drinks, fruit drinks, lemonade and fruit punch. Diet drinks were excluded. At the start of the study, the participants drank 10.5 fluid ounces of SSB a day, equivalent to just under one serving. At the end of the study, average consumption had fallen by half a serving a day and there was a significant decline in both systolic blood pressure (the pressure when the heart beats), and diastolic blood pressure, (the pressure between beats). The researchers stated “Our findings suggest that reducing sugar-sweetened beverages and sugar consumption may be an important dietary strategy to lower blood pressure and further reduce other blood pressure-related diseases.”1
1 Chen L, Caballero B, Mitchell DC, et al. Reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with reduced blood pressure: a prospective study among United States adults. Circulation. Jun2010;121(22):2398-406.