Salt and Blood Pressure

It's official: salt is bad for you

Essential hypertension - elevated blood pressure with no underlying identifiable cause - is the most common type of hypertension and it is also by far the most common cardiovascular disorder in general population. The prevalence of hypertension increases with age so that 90% of people develop essential hypertension over their lifetime. The exact cause of essential hypertension is still unknown, and it is therefore also called idiopathic or primary hypertension. However, there is a good evidence that multiple factors - both genetic and environmental - are involved. Hypertension does not cause any immediate subjective problems and can therefore remain undetected for years but it is a major risk factor for heart attack, stroke, atrial fibrillation and other cardiovascular diseases.

It seems that one of the main causes of essential hypertension is increased salt intake. Excess salt, or more precisely sodium, retains water in the circulatory system, thus increasing the blood pressure.Several studies have found that daily salt intake greater than 100 mmol (approximately 5.9 g) is a risk factor for the development of hypertension. The problem is that nowadays vast majority of people exceed this limit. 

World Health Organization (WHO), in its guideline “Sodium Intake for Adults and Children”, strongly recommends daily salt intake for adults less than 5 g. Estimated salt intake in Europe (1990-2009) is 8-12 g/day, which is obviously very high and can to some extent explain the prevance of hypertension in general population.

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