Excessive salt consumption is known to increase the risk of hypertension. Doctors call people who are hypersensitive to salt those in whom the body reacts to salt with increased blood pressure more than others. Scientists have known about this phenomenon for a relatively long time. However, the relationship between salt, body sensitivity to it, and blood pressure is still poorly understood. For example, the question remained open: is hypersensitivity to salt a cause of hypertension or a consequence of it?
In a new study, scientists from the United States and China determined the salt sensitivity level in 1604 people whose blood pressure was below 140/90 millimeters of mercury (that is, they did not have hypertension). To do this, they first “kept” the participants on a low-salt diet for a week, then on a high-salt diet for a week. In parallel, they noted how the participants’ blood pressure changed.
The study participants were followed by more than sevenand years. The authors found that people with salt sensitivity were 43% more likely to develop hypertension than people with normal sensitivity.
Scientists believe their new findings suggest that salt sensitivity is a cause, not a consequence, of hypertension.
“This really supports the idea that we need to focus more on reducing salt intake among all people,” said Jiang He. Jiang He of Tulane University, co-author of the study. He recalled that controlling blood pressure reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Another goal of the scientists was to find genes that are responsible for increased sensitivity to salt, and associated biomarkers. However, in this study, the authors failed to do so. They believe that future research needs to identify ways to quickly identify people with high sensitivity to salt.
Scientists hope that, over time, personalized medicine will provide a variety of treatments and preventions for hypertension in different patient populations.
How much salt can be consumed per day and how much sodium needs to be removed from the diet in order to lower blood pressure, you can learn from our material.