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High-Salt Diet Dampens Effects of Blood Pressure Drugs
Date:7/20/2009

To avoid sodium in processed foods, experts advise reading food labels

MONDAY, July 20 (HealthDay News) -- Not only does a high-salt diet contribute to hypertension, but it can also reduce the effectiveness of blood pressure medications, a new study finds.

"What is striking about these results is the degree of the effect," said Dr. David A. Calhoun, a professor of medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and a member of the team reporting the finding in the July 20 online issue of Hypertension.

The study evaluated 12 people with resistant hypertension, high blood pressure that can't be controlled by a three-drug regimen. Because the study was so small, the results can't be easily applied to everyone with high blood pressure, but "anyone with high blood pressure certainly benefits from a low-salt diet," Calhoun said.

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular problems, and heavy salt intake has long been known to contribute to the condition, Calhoun said.

Half of the study participants were black, a group that is especially prone to high blood pressure. They were taking an average of three blood pressure medications. In the trial, half were assigned to a low-salt diet containing 50 millimoles of salt a day (about a half teaspoon), slightly below the 65 millimole intake recommended for salt-sensitive people. The other half had a high-salt diet, containing 250 millimoles (2.5 teaspoons) daily. They all spent time on each diet, and continued to take their prescribed medications.

Those on the low-salt diet had an average drop of 22.7 points in systolic blood pressure (the higher of the 120/80 reading, measured when the heart is contracting) and 9.1 points in diastolic blood pressure.

"The effect of the low-salt diet was greater than has previously been described," Calhoun said.

Another study reported in the sa
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