Research evidence on the role of dietary sodium in the etiology and pathogenesis of hypertension is briefly reviewed. This matter is assuming new importance at present, given new data on the efficacy of normalization of blood pressure for adults with so-called "mild" hypertension (average diastolic 90-104 mm Hg), hence the need for safe nutritional-hygienic alternatives to years-long drug treatment for millions of people with such hypertension. Two trials by the authors deal with some unresolved questions in this area. The first, a preliminary study, involved 21 lacto-ovo-vegetarian high school students living in a boarding school. With decrease in daily Na intake from 216 to 72 meq for the experimental compared with the control group, red blood cell Na concentration was significantly lower in the former; systolic pressure was slightly but not significantly lower. The second trial, the Primary Prevention of Hypertension, involves over 200 hypertension-prone persons aged 30-44, and explores the ability in the experimental group to reduce blood pressure and prevent development of hypertension by safe nutritional-hygienic means (weight reduction, dietary Na decrease, avoidance of excess alcohol, rhythmic exercise). Initial results at 6 months are presented. Trials on the prevention and control of hypertension by nonpharmacologic means, including reduced Na intake, and involving analyses of the interrelationships among dietary Na, other dietary factors, Na metabolism, and blood pressure in samples from different population strata, are an important present-day research need.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health