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Studies Shed Light on Sodium-Blood Pressure Connections

Last Updated: July 20, 2009.

A reduction of salt intake leads to decreases in blood pressure in African-Americans, Caucasians and Asians; reduces blood pressure in those with resistant hypertension; and may have other physiologic benefits, according to two studies published online July 20 in Hypertension.

MONDAY, July 20 (HealthDay News) -- A reduction of salt intake leads to decreases in blood pressure in African-Americans, Caucasians and Asians; reduces blood pressure in those with resistant hypertension; and may have other physiologic benefits, according to two studies published online July 20 in Hypertension.

In the first study, Feng J. He, M.D., of the University of London, and colleagues analyzed data from 169 Caucasians, African-Americans and Asians, who had untreated mildly elevated blood pressure. Subjects were put into a crossover trial in which they went on a reduced-salt diet and received sustained release sodium tablets or placebo for six weeks each. Reduced salt intake was associated with lower blood pressure (average fall of 4.8 mm Hg systolic) and lower albumin/creatinine ratio, with significant reductions in all groups.

In the other study, Eduardo Pimenta, M.D., of the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane, Australia, and colleagues analyzed data from 12 subjects with resistant hypertension who participated in a randomized crossover study of low- or high-sodium diets for a week each. The low-sodium diet decreased office systolic blood pressure by 22.7 mm Hg.

"In summary, data presented by Pimenta and colleagues strongly suggest that persons with resistant hypertension are extremely sensitive to the blood pressure-lowering effects of sodium reduction. The observed reductions in blood pressure were huge -- roughly equivalent to adding two antihypertensive medications," writes the author of an accompanying editorial. "A renewed and aggressive emphasis on lifestyle modification, specifically sodium reduction, is warranted in patients with resistant hypertension and uncontrolled blood pressure."

A co-author on the second study served as a consultant for the Salt Institute. Appel received grants from King-Monarch Pharmaceuticals.

Abstract - He
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Abstract - Pimenta
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