Does a new hypothesis help explain higher levels of hypertension among African-Americans?

ssive amounts), the research team developed a protocol to examine race differences in "stress-induced salt sensitivity" by measuring changes in urinary sodium excretion (UNaV) in response to a stress-induced increase in blood pressure (BP).

A total of 189 African-American) and 32 Caucasian Americans (CA) aged 15-18 years were brought into similar levels of sodium balance prior to testing. The stress protocol consisted of a 2-hour baseline period, followed by a 1-hour period during which the subjects played a competitive video game task and a 2-hour recovery period.

Hemodynamic measures were obtained at 15-minute intervals and blood and urine samples were obtained hourly.


The researchers noted the following:

  • The AA subjects had lower UNaV stress (167 versus 196 mEq/hr) despite similar levels of systolic BP (118 9 versus 119 11 mmHg).
  • The BP of the AA subjects was significantly higher than the CA subjects 2 hours following the cessation of the stressor (114 9 versus 110 8 mmHg; P<0.05).
  • Within the AA subjects, stress BP was associated with stroke volume (r=0.15; P<0.03) and the UNaV was inversely associated with angiotensin II (r=0.29; P<0.002).


The major finding of this study is that stress-induced salt sensitivity and the associated increased blood pressure load contribute to racial differences in the prevalence of hypertension. These results may help to further explain how the interactions between salt, stress and blood pressure contribute to the increased incidence and prevalence of hypertension of African-Americans.


Contact: Donna Krupa
American Physiological Society

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