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Sodium’s Influence on Blood Pressure Statistically Insignificant

Salt intake not associated with SBP in men or women, study finds

A new study published in the American Journal of Hypertension finds evidence that an increased body mass index (BMI), age, and non-sodium dietary factors are much more closely related to increases in systolic blood pressure than is sodium intake.

The study measured the effects of BMI, sodium intake, physical activity, alcohol consumption, and non-sodium dietary factors on the blood pressure of 8,670 French adults and concluded that BMI, age, and alcohol intake were all strongly linked to blood pressure increases. Sodium intake, however, was found to be statistically insignificant in relation to blood pressure outcomes. Higher consumption of fruits and vegetables was shown to significantly lower blood pressure, whereas increased physical activity had no noticeable effect.

None of the individuals measured received pharmacologic treatment for hypertension during the study.

Lead author Dr. Jacques Blacher said that such research should play a prominent role in determining public health initiatives for reducing epidemic hypertension.

“Hypertension is the world’s most prevalent chronic disease,” he remarked. “It affects more than 30% of adults aged 25 and above, and accounts for 9.4 million deaths every year. Given its increasing prevalence and the difficulty we as a global health community have in managing it, more should be done to identify causal behavioral relationships to blood pressure outcomes that can lead to better strategies for preventing hypertension.”

The authors noted that, although the lifestyle factors measured in the study are often targeted by physicians as areas for adjustment in patients with hypertension, there is surprisingly little data on their individual effects on blood pressure within pharmacologically untreated populations.

Sources: Medical Xpress; September 8, 2014; and AJH; September 3, 2014.

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