A study by academics from the US and China found that individuals with “self-reported altered taste and smell perception” had “larger increases in blood pressure independent of known risk factors.” As part of their investigation the blood pressure of more than 5,000 adults was documented once in 2012 and again in 2014. At the same time the participants completed a questionnaire about their taste and smell.
Over that time the study, which was published in the Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases journal, reports: “Individuals with altered taste and smell perception had larger increases in systolic blood pressure and mean arterial pressure after two years of follow-up compared with those having neither altered taste nor altered smell perception.”
However, it notes: “No significant association was observed in individuals with altered taste or smell perception only.”
Research was conducted following previous findings that showed how people with “decreased ability” to taste sodium were at higher risk of developing high blood pressure.
The report adds: “Chemosensory functions, which are usually known as taste and smell functions, are the major pathways for mammals to sense and respond to chemical compounds in the environment, such as odour, flavour, and stimulant.
“The chemosensory process involves several signalling mechanisms, which may be associated with the development of some diseases; however, this process is relatively under-examined in general populations.”
High blood pressure – or hypertension – can lead to serious health issues if left untreated.
It is measured by two numbers, the systolic pressure (the higher number) and diastolic pressure (lower).
Systolic pressure is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body.
And the diastolic pressure is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.
The NHS recommends monitoring your blood pressure, especially if you are over the age of 40, either with a home check kit or through your GP or pharmacy.
It warns: “If your blood pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your blood vessels, heart and other organs, such as the brain, kidneys and eyes.”
Generally, high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90 millimetres of mercury (mmHg) or higher (or 150/90mmHg or higher if you’re over the age of 80).
Although “it’s not always clear what causes” high blood pressure, there are things that can increase your risk.
For example, you might be more at risk if you: are overweight, eat too much salt and do not eat enough fruit and vegetables, do not do enough exercise and drink too much alcohol or coffee (or other caffeine-based drinks).
Smokers and people over the age of 65 are also most at risk.