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Salt can still harm even in the absence of high blood pressure

Posted:  Tuesday, March 17, 2015

If you are suffering from high blood pressure, then you may face severe clamp down on the use of salt in foods. So does it mean that those not suffering from the condition can consume salt freely?

A recent research suggests not as salt, even in the absence of high blood pressure, can affect target organs including blood vessels, heart, kidneys and brain.

Published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the researchers in their paper suggest that high salt intake could be deleterious to both salt sensitive and salt-resistant individuals.

The study highlights the various adverse effect high salt intake could have on different target organs even in salt resistant people. These include:

• Effect on arteries: high salt intake could reduce function of the endothelium, which is the inner lining of blood vessels. Endothelial cells mediate a number of processes, including coagulation, platelet adhesion and immune function. Elevated dietary sodium can also increase arterial stiffness.

• Effect on the heart: High dietary sodium can also lead to left ventricular hypertrophy, the muscle tissue that makes up the wall of the heart's main pumping chamber. Due to this change, the walls of the chamber become thicker and less compliant and eventually are unable to pump as forcefully as a healthy heart.

• Effect on the kidneys: Existing evidence suggests that high sodium is associated with reduced renal function, a decline observed with only a minimal increase in blood pressure.

• Effect on sympathetic nervous system (SNS): Chronic elevated dietary sodium may 'sensitise' sympathetic neurons in the brain, causing a greater response to a variety of stimuli, including skeletal muscle contraction. Even in the absence of high blood pressure, chronically increased sympathetic outflow may have harmful effects on target organs.

The researchers suggest ‘shaking the salt habit’ by removing the table salt in addition to reducing consumption of processed foods that may introduce high amounts of sodium discreetly in the diet.

In conclusion, the researchers said, "Reducing sodium will take a coordinated effort involving organizations like the AHA, food producers and processors, restaurants, and public policy aimed at education."

This evidence has resulted in the American Heart Association's recommendation of consuming less than 1,500 mg of sodium a day.

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