Advice & Support
Living with Incontinence

Hypertension and Incontinence

High blood pressure increases your risk of stroke, heart attack and…incontinence.

Published by Jane Granger
Hypertension and Incontinence

The Australian Government estimates that 34% of adults have high blood pressure. In New Zealand, the estimate is one in five, with most not realising they have it.



What is high blood pressure?

Blood pressure (aka hypertension) is the force of blood (high and low) through the arteries. Persistent high pressure can put a strain on many parts of your body including organs and blood vessels, leading to stroke, heart disease, cardiac arrest and kidney failure. It can even affect your sight and sexual function, contribute to bone loss and difficulty sleeping.

Diagnosing high blood pressure

High blood pressure happens slowly over time and has no symptoms, which is why so many people are unaware that they have it and also why it’s often referred to as ‘the silent killer’.

It’s also why many General Practitioners will measure your blood pressure at an appointment – even if it seems unconnected to the reason you’re there.

You’re probably familiar with how it’s measured; a cuff with a pressure gauge is placed around the upper arm and inflated until the circulation is cut off. The doctor uses a stethoscope on the inside of the elbow to listen for the return of blood as the cuff slowly deflates. Not sure if this paragraph needed as almost everyone has had their B/P measured?

That first sound of rushing blood refers to the systolic blood pressure; once the sound fades, the second number indicates the diastolic pressure, the blood pressure of your heart at rest, or between beats. Not sure if this paragraph needed as almost everyone has had their B/P measured?

These are measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and recorded with the systolic number first, to give a two-number result. A consistent measure at or above 140/90 is considered ‘high blood pressure’.

How does high blood pressure contribute to incontinence?

There are two key contributing factors:

  • A side effect of medication used to control high blood pressure
  • In more extreme cases, reduced mobility, making getting to the toilet in time more difficult.

There are several classes of drugs used to address hypertension including:

  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • Clonidine
  • Minoxidil
  • Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs)
  • Beta-blockers
  • Calcium channel blockers (CCBs)
  • Diuretics
  • Alpha-blockers
  • Alpha-beta blockers


You can read more about these, including brand names and side-effects here

Many of these drugs work by dilating blood vessels to reduce blood pressure. They can also interfere with the bladder’s ability to contract, and others, like diuretics reduce the amount of water the body holds, which can cause excessive urine production and incontinence.

On the other hand, alpha-blockers can actually be used to help men with enlarged, but benign prostates with urination problems. They help relax the muscles in the bladder neck, letting urine flow more easily, improving their symptoms. Alpha-blockers can relax the bladder in women too, but sometimes with negative consequences.

All of these issues are exacerbated if you have a weak pelvic floor muscle, are overweight or have mobility issues.

Left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to heart failure, a symptom of which is shortness of breath. Combined with obesity, lack of fitness, a general feeling of being unwell and sometimes swollen limbs from excessive fluid, it’s no wonder getting to the toilet in time can be compromised.

If you’re on blood pressure tablets and experiencing incontinence, speak with your doctor. Do not stop taking your medication. The solution may be as simple as switching drugs, but this must be done under medical instruction.


Reducing the risk of high blood pressure


It’s also true that high blood pressure can be genetic and run in families with very healthy lifestyles.

If the doctor prescribes medications to bring down and control blood pressure, it’s absolutely essential that they’re taken as instructed.

Managing Incontinence
If your blood pressure is high, your medications and lifestyle may have contributed to your incontinence.

While you’re sorting that out with your doctor, find security and comfort in wearing an absorbent product. The entire TENA range has been designed to handle the thinner, faster flow of a weak bladder, rapidly absorbing and locking away fluid, keeping you dry and odour free.

Products range from those designed to handle just a few drops or a small gush (Shields for Men and Liners for Women) through to the complete protection of absorbent pants, also designed for Men and Women.

Take advantage of our Product Finder Tool, and Free Samples find the product that best suits you.




Asaleo Care makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional, medical or other health professional advice.