Hypertension has been related to both obesity and a high salt intake. Evidence for the associations of blood pressure with body weight and dietary salt intake is summarized. In both adolescents and adults correlations between blood pressure and weight are highly significant, and in longitudinal studies change in blood pressure over time is correlated with change in weight. Correlations between salt intake and blood pressure are less striking, and the results of trials of modest salt restriction demonstrate a small but significant effect on blood pressure. Individuals vary in their susceptibility to salt, and hypertensive individuals are more responsive than normotensive individuals. Dietary deficiencies of potassium and calcium may amplify the effect of a high salt intake on blood pressure. Animal models provide compelling evidence for a genetic component to salt sensitivity of blood pressure. In two hypertension prevention trials, change in blood pressure was more convincingly related to change in weight than to change in dietary salt. Avoidance of obesity, or weight reduction in overweight individuals, should be key strategies for hypertension prevention. Avoidance of salt excess is also appropriate, although currently available trial data do not justify a recommendation of rigorous salt restriction for the entire population.
- Copyright © 1991 by American Heart Association