New Study Finds Reducing Sodium Intake Can Lower Blood Pressure for Everyone, Even Those on Medication
In a groundbreaking study conducted by Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Northwestern Medicine, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, researchers have discovered that nearly everyone can lower their blood pressure by reducing their sodium intake, regardless of whether or not they are already taking blood pressure-reducing drugs.
The study, which involved middle-aged to elderly individuals, showed that by reducing their salt intake by just one teaspoon a day compared to their usual diet, participants experienced a decline in systolic blood pressure by about 6 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). This reduction is equivalent to the effect of commonly used first-line medications for high blood pressure.
Remarkably, the findings indicated that 70-75% of all people, including those already on blood pressure medications, could see a reduction in their blood pressure by simply lowering their sodium intake. This study is one of the largest to examine the impact of reducing sodium in the diet on blood pressure, particularly in individuals with hypertension who are already on medications.
The American Heart Association currently recommends a daily sodium intake below 1,500 milligrams. However, this study aimed to decrease sodium intake even further. High blood pressure is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, contributing to heart failure, heart attacks, and strokes.
To gather data, study participants wore blood pressure monitors and collected urine samples for 24 hours. The results demonstrated that systolic blood pressure significantly decreased when individuals followed a low-sodium diet compared to a high-sodium diet or their usual diet. Overall, 72% of participants experienced a lowering of their systolic blood pressure on the low-sodium diet compared to their usual diet.
Interestingly, the blood pressure-lowering effect of reducing sodium intake remained consistent across individuals with normal blood pressure, high blood pressure, treated blood pressure, and untreated blood pressure. Furthermore, this reduction in blood pressure was achieved rapidly and safely within one week.
The researchers concluded that reducing dietary sodium intake can significantly contribute to blood pressure control, even in individuals taking hypertension medications. They emphasize that any reduction in sodium intake from the current usual diet is likely beneficial for most people in terms of blood pressure management.
These findings have significant public health implications, as blood pressure dropped substantially in just one week and was well-tolerated by the participants. The low-sodium products used in the study are widely available, making it possible for individuals to improve their health through their diet.
The research was supported by grants from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, underscoring the importance of this study in addressing a major public health concern.