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Stress prompts some to retain as much salt as eating fries
Date:9/7/2012

impacted by stress.

In a handful of young blacks identified as sodium retainers through a complex research protocol, Harshfield has shown that the dangerous sodium load can be lifted with angiotensin receptor blockers, a common blood pressure treatment. Ironically these drugs are rarely used in blacks who tend not to have high levels of the powerful blood vessel constrictor angiotensin. However, Harshfield's group has evidence that sodium retainers would definitely benefit because they have a version of the angiotensin receptor gene that exacerbates problems with sodium handling. A truly low-salt diet likely would be beneficial as well.

Angiotensin increases blood pressure by directing the kidneys to hold onto more salt and by increasing levels of the hormone aldosterone, which also directs the kidneys to retain salt. The normal response to stress is to temporarily increase blood vessel constriction, which actually increases sodium excretion, Harshfield said.

His studies have long focused on the kidney and years ago found that about 30 percent of blacks and about 10 percent of whites tend to hold onto more sodium for longer periods in response to stress. Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, which drives the hopefully temporary increase in blood pressure.

The latest findings come from a $10.6 million Program Project grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute focused on how the body regulates blood pressure in response to stress. Part of that grant includes a study in which half of 140 young adult sodium retainers take an angiotensin receptor blocker for about a week while the remainder take a placebo. Harshfield "un-blinded" a small number of study participants to collect data for a grant renewal proposal.

In the ongoing search for an easy way to identify sodium retainers, Evan Mulloy, a first-year student at the Medical College of Georgia, is working with Harshfield to collect urine sample
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Contact: Toni Baker
tbaker@georgiahealth.edu
706-721-4421
Georgia Health Sciences University
Source:Eurekalert  

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