Controversial salt study comment from Blood Pressure Association

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Controversial salt study comment from Blood Pressure Association
14/11/2011

In response to the story below* which reports that sodium reduction does not have net health benefits, claiming instead that a reduction in salt can cause an increase in cholesterol and in fact be bad for overall health, the Blood Pressure Association would like to make the following comment:

*Graudal et al. Effects of Low-Sodium Diet vs. High-Sodium Diet on Blood Pressure, Renin, Aldosterone, Catecholamines, Cholesterol, and Triglyceride (Cochrane Review) AMERICAN JOURNAL OF HYPERTENSION.

Professor MacGregor, Chairman of the Blood Pressure Association says:

This Cochrane review clearly shows once again that decreasing salt intake lowers blood pressure, both in people with high and normal blood pressure and irrespective of ethnic group.

Graudal and colleagues claim that a purported increase in cholesterol & other lipid fractions with salt reduction may offset the beneficial effects of this fall in blood pressure.

However, detailed examination of their paper clearly demonstrates that in those studies that lasted more than a month, there was NO significant increase in cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

At one month there were small increases in plasma renin activity and plasma aldosterone, which is exactly what would be expected when salt intake is reduced, and is similar to that which occurs when diuretics are given to reduce blood pressure.

NB diuretics have been shown to be very beneficial in reducing strokes, heart attacks and heart failure in people treated for high blood pressure.

This study, contrary to the authors’ claims, supports the wealth of evidence that reducing our salt intake will be immensely beneficial in preventing strokes, heart attacks and heart failure, the commonest causes of death and disability in the world.  The question is not ‘should’ we reduce salt intake, but ‘how’. 

The UK ’s salt reduction strategy is leading the world, and has been shown to be the most cost-effective current public health policy.



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