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Excessive salt may damage blood vessels

June 19, 2012 at 12:57 AM   |   Comments

BOSTON, June 19 (UPI) -- Eating a high-salt diet for years may damage blood vessels, increasing risk of high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease, U.S. researchers say.

Lead author Dr. John Forman, a nephrologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues tracked the sodium intake of 5,556 men and women from the general population of Groningen, Netherlands.

Sodium intake was assessed by collecting multiple 24-hour urine samples, which is considered the optimal method to measure sodium intake, Forman said.

Researchers analyzed the association between sodium consumption and blood levels of uric acid and albumin in the urine -- both markers of blood vessel damage -- in participants not taking high blood pressure medication.

During a median follow-up of 6.4 years, 878 new hypertension diagnoses were made.

The study, published in the journal Circulation, compared with participants eating the least amount of sodium, about 2,200 milligrams a day, those eating the most sodium about 6,200 mg/d were 21 percent more likely than others to develop high blood pressure.

In addition, those who had high uric acid levels and ate the most salt were 32 percent more likely to develop high blood pressure, while those with high urine albumin levels and highest salt intake were 86 percent more likely to develop high blood pressure, the study found.

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