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NHLBI study shows large blood pressure benefit from reduced dietary sodium

The lower the amount of sodium in the diet, the lower the blood pressure, for both those with and without hypertension, according to a National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)-supported clinical study. The lowest sodium level tested, which produced the lowest blood pressure, was well below the currently recommended intake of 2,400 milligrams a day.

Moreover, the effects of reducing sodium occurred with both a diet similar to what many Americans eat and the "DASH diet," which is rich in vegetables, fruits, and lowfat dairy foods and low in saturated fat, total fat, and cholesterol. The greatest blood pressure reduction occurred with the DASH diet at the lowest intake of dietary sodium.

The blood pressure reductions occurred in men and women and in African Americans and others.

DASH stands for "Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension." The findings, which will be presented tomorrow at the American Society of Hypertension (ASH) annual meeting in New York City, are from the DASH-Sodium trial, a multicenter 14-week feeding study.

"This finding should answer the question of whether or not reducing dietary sodium benefits those without hypertension," said NHLBI Director Dr. Claude Lenfant. "Earlier studies had differed in their designs, leading to uncertainty over how worthwhile it is to reduce dietary sodium for those who have not yet developed high blood pressure. This well-controlled study had a diverse group of participants and its finding shows that the benefit is substantial.

"The study also should help establish the best level of sodium consumption for preventing and controlling high blood pressure. The finding suggests that an intake below that now recommended could help many Americans prevent the blood pressure rises that now occur with advancing age."

The new finding is from the second DASH study. The first DASH study examined the effect on blood pressure of whole dietary patterns, rather than of in
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Contact: NHLBI Communications Office
301-496-4236
NIH/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
16-May-2000


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