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Sodium Intake Increasing In People With High Blood Pressure

Reducing salt intake is often recommended for people who are trying to lower their blood pressure and improve their heart health. Despite that, a recent study suggests that daily sodium intake among Americans with high blood pressure increased significantly from 1999 to 2012.


For this study, researchers examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which takes place annually and includes approximately 5,000 US residents each year. The study period they looked at included approximately 13,000 participants who had been diagnosed with high blood pressure, and who took part in the survey from 1999 to 2012. All of the participants filled out questionnaires to determine their daily food intake.


The researchers found that daily sodium intake in people with high blood pressure increased by more than 14% during the study period. The increase differed by ethnicity, as Hispanic people had a 26% increase, African-Americans had a 20% increase, and white Americans had a 2% increase. White Americans had the highest sodium intake over the study period, but all three ethnicities had the same daily sodium intake by 2012. In general, men had higher sodium intake than women.


When the researchers looked specifically at people with high blood pressure, those who suffered a heart attack or stroke, were taking blood pressure medications, had diabetes, obesity, or heart failure had the lowest sodium intake.


Researchers from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School led the study. It was presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 66th Annual Scientific Session that took place the week of March 17, 2017.


US dietary guidelines recommend a daily maximum of 1,500 milligrams of sodium for people with high blood pressure or a high risk of developing it. The daily recommended maximum for most other people is 2,300 milligrams.


If you’re concerned about salt intake, consider substituting low-sodium options for flavoring food, including natural herbs and low-sodium tamari, which is similar to soy sauce. It’s also recommended that people cut out or reduce processed foods, choosing less salty items at restaurants, adding less salt when cooking at home, and tasting food before adding salt at the table.

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