Almost everyone can lower blood pressure by reducing salt consumption, even those who take blood pressure medications.
Almost everyone can lower their blood pressure, even people currently taking blood pressure-lowering medications, by reducing their sodium intake. This is according to a new research study from Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), Northwestern Medicine, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
“In the study, middle-aged and elderly participants reduced their salt intake by about one teaspoon per day compared to their usual diet. The result was a decrease in systolic blood pressure of approximately 6 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), which is comparable to the effect produced by a first-line medication commonly used for high blood pressure,” said Deepak Gupta, MD, MSCI, associated. professor of Medicine at VUMC and co-principal investigator.
“We found that 70% to 75% of all people, regardless of whether they already take blood pressure medications or not, are likely to see a reduction in their blood pressure if they reduce sodium in their diet,” said the co-principal investigator. Norrina Allen, Ph.D., MPH, professor of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
This is one of the largest studies to investigate the effect of reducing dietary sodium on blood pressure to include people with hypertension and already taking medications.
“Previously we didn’t know whether people already taking blood pressure medications could actually lower their blood pressure further by reducing their sodium intake,” said Allen, also the Quentin D. Young Professor of Health Policy and director of the Center for Epidemiology and Population. . Health in the Northwest.
The study was published on November 11 in the Journal of the American Medical Association and was presented simultaneously at the 2023 Scientific Sessions of the American Heart Association in Philadelphia.
The AHA’s recommended total daily sodium intake should be less than 1,500 milligrams, and this study was designed to lower it even below that, Allen said. “It may be challenging, but reducing sodium intake by any amount will be beneficial,” he said.
High blood pressure is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the world. “High blood pressure can lead to heart failure, heart attacks and strokes because it puts extra pressure on the arteries,” Allen said. “It affects the heart’s ability to function effectively and pump blood.”
How the study worked
Middle-aged and elderly people ages 50 to 70 in Birmingham, Alabama, and Chicago were randomly assigned to either a high-sodium diet (2,200 mg per day in addition to their usual diet) or a low-sodium diet (500 mg in total per day). day) for one week, after which they switched to the opposite diet for one week.
The day before each study visit, participants wore blood pressure monitors and collected urine for 24 hours. Among 213 participants, systolic blood pressure was significantly reduced by 7 to 8 mm Hg when they consumed the low-sodium diet compared to the high-sodium diet, and by 6 mm Hg compared to their usual diet.
Overall, 72% of participants experienced a reduction in their systolic blood pressure on the low-sodium diet compared to their usual diet.
Results and conclusions
“The effect of reducing dietary sodium on blood pressure reduction was consistent in almost all individuals, including those with normal blood pressure, high blood pressure, treated blood pressure and untreated blood pressure,” said Gupta.
“Just as any physical activity is better than none for most people; “any sodium reduction in the current regular diet is probably better than none for most people when it comes to blood pressure,” he said.
“This reinforces the importance of reducing dietary sodium intake to help control blood pressure, even among people taking medications for hypertension,” Allen added.
The blood pressure-lowering effect of reducing dietary sodium was achieved quickly and safely within a week.
Implications for public health
“The fact that blood pressure decreased so significantly in just one week and was well tolerated is important and emphasizes the potential public health impact of reducing sodium in the population’s diet, given that high blood pressure “It’s a huge health problem around the world,” said co-investigator Cora Lewis, MD, MSPH, professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology and professor of Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
“It’s particularly exciting that the products we use in the low-sodium diet are widely available, so people have a real opportunity to improve their health by improving their diet in this way,” Lewis said.
Reference: “Effect of dietary sodium on blood pressure: a crossover trial” by Deepak K. Gupta, Cora E. Lewis, Krista A. Varady, Yan Ru Su, Meena S. Madhur, Daniel T. Lackland, Jared P Reis, Thomas J. Wang, Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, and Norrina B. Allen, November 11, 2023, JAMA.
Other authors include Krista Varady, Ph.D., Yan Ru Su, MD, Meena Madhur, MD, Ph.D., Daniel Lackland, Ph.D., Jared Reis, Ph.D., Thomas Wang, MD, and Donald Lloyd-Jones, MD
The research was funded by grant R01HL148661 and contracts 75N92023D00005 and 75N92023D00004 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. National Institutes of Health.
The content is the sole responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.