Water Pills for High Blood Pressure Cause Vitamin B1 Deficiencies

It appears doctors have been overlooking the fact that diuretics, even low-dose water pills, which are sometimes recommended for high blood pressure, can cause a vitamin B1 deficiency, also known as thiamine, which can result in heart failure.

A growing body of data now reveals that the widespread use of diuretics, which have been specified in treatment guidelines for high blood pressure and heart failure itself, may actually backfire and promote a weakened heart.

The January 17-2006 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology reports that 30% of hospitalized patients taking diuretics (water pills) were deficient in thiamine (vitamin B1). This may explain in part why a study published in 2003 showed that 16.5% of congestive heart failure patients died while in the hospital and 50% were re-admitted following discharge. [Health Outcomes Policy 19: 430-35, 2003]

In 2004 doctors in Zurich, Switzerland reported that vitamin B1 plays an important role in energy metabolism for heart muscle and that side effects caused by diuretic-induced thiamine deficiency are often overlooked. [Schweiz Rundsch Med Prax 93: 857-63, 2004]

In one study, congestive heart failure patients discharged from a hospital who received a 200-milligram thiamine supplement experienced a 22% improvement in the pumping action of the heart. [American Journal Medicine 98: 485-90, 1995]

Recently doctors at the Castle Hill Hospital in Cottingham, UK, prescribed a nutrient mixture that included thiamine along with vitamins C, D, E, coenzyme Q10, other B vitamins and minerals, which improved the pumping action of the heart among senior patients with heart failure. [European Heart Journal 26: 2238-44, 2005]