Nocturia and Heart Failure: What's the Link?

While getting up in the night to go to the bathroom is normal, getting up over and over isn’t. Although nocturia isn’t a diagnosable issue, it is a symptom that can help diagnose more serious problems.

Among the things that nocturia can result from is heart failure. Here is a look at how these two issues are linked. 

What is Nocturia?

Nocturia is defined as having to wake up to urinate multiple times in the night. Nighttime bathroom trips should only account for about two of the eight or so cups of urine the body produces. When more than 20% to 30% of urine is released in the night while you’re trying to sleep, you may be experiencing nocturia. When nocturia occurs in the long term it might mean you need to visit the doctor. It might be indicative of something quite serious, like heart failure. 

What is Heart Failure?

Heart failure means that the heart has become so worn out or so stiff that it can no longer pump blood around the body effectively. This inefficiency affects the whole body—it’s not just the heart muscle that’s having a problem. Eventually, the fluid isn’t moving as well, which means it starts getting backed up. 

And not just blood, but other fluids can collect in the legs, causing swelling called edema. The veins are also backed up with blood and fluid, which means the fluid causing edema can’t be absorbed back into the blood. 

The Link

The imbalance of fluids caused by heart failure is largely responsible for nocturia. Edema alone can lead to nocturia, but with heart disease, none of the organs are getting the blood they need either. When you lay down to go to sleep, all the fluid that’s been gathering in the legs can head back toward the heart. The amount of blood pumped by the heart can actually increase during sleep because of this. The kidneys in particular can suddenly get an extra dose of blood, and they try to help out the heart by producing more urine to get rid of all that extra fluid.