Feeling Faint? Drink Water

While politicians fight over how to reduce the cost of drugs, there's one "medicine" that costs almost nothing and is as close as the nearest faucet: water. At the annual meeting of the American Heart Association, held recently in New Orleans, a group of investigators at Vanderbilt University and at Humboldt University in Berlin presented findings that drinking tap water before standing from a sitting or prone position prevents orthostatic hypotension, or fainting, in patients with various kinds of autonomic failure. Jens Jordan, of the Franz-Volhard Clinic at Humbolt University, said that previous studies show that the mechanism of action involved in preventing blood pressure drops after water consumption is not an increase in plasma volume, but rather vasoconstriction. By interrupting the sympathetic or autonomic nervous system in this way, the pressor response is abolished, "so apparently, some patients have retained some response of the autonomic...

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