Do you suffer from high blood pressure or want to protect yourself from it? A simple habit can lower your blood pressure, whether you are on treatment or not. Find out how.
A simple habit could lower blood pressure, even for people who are currently taking antihypertensive medications. This encouraging and optimistic message comes not from a coach, but from a new scientific study led by Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), Northwestern Medicine and the University of Alabama. This known habit is now better quantified: reducing salt on a daily basis would lower systolic blood pressure, from the first days of reduction.
One less teaspoon of salt as effective as medicine
The study involved 213 participants, ages 50 to 70, from Birmingham, Alabama, and Chicago who were randomly assigned to either a high-sodium diet (2,200 mg per day plus their usual diet) or a low sodium diet (500 mg total per day) for one week. After which they switched to the opposite diet for a week. The day before each study visit, participants wore blood pressure monitors and collected their urine for 24 hours. Results :
- Among the 213 participants, systolic blood pressure was significantly reduced by 7 to 8 mm Hg when they followed a low-sodium diet compared to a high-sodium diet, and by 6 mm Hg compared to their usual diet;
- Overall, 72% of participants saw a drop in their systolic blood pressure on the low-sodium diet compared to their usual diet.
And this reduction is not anecdotal according to the authors, but would really help to stay in good health. “In the study, middle-aged to elderly participants reduced their salt intake by about one teaspoon per day compared to their usual diet. The result was a drop in systolic blood pressure of about 6 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), which is comparable to the effect produced by a first-line drug commonly used for high blood pressure”said Deepak Gupta, co-principal investigator.
A reduction also when you are already under treatment
The other important takeaway from this study is that this good habit, reducing sodium, isn’t just for people watching their blood pressure. It would also work on people already under treatment, further accentuating the beneficial effect of the drugs.
“Previously, we didn’t know whether people already taking blood pressure medications could actually lower their blood pressure further by reducing their sodium intake,” confirm the authors.
In their study including different situations, the effect of reducing dietary sodium on lowering blood pressure was found to be consistent in almost all individuals: those with normal blood pressure, high blood pressure, treated blood pressure and untreated blood pressure. “This reinforces the importance of reducing dietary sodium intake to help control blood pressure, even in people taking blood pressure medications.” confirm the authors.
Especially since the hypotensive effect of reducing dietary sodium was achieved quickly and safely in just one week.
As a reminder, high blood pressure is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. It can lead to heart failure, heart attacks and strokes. In Europe alone, 17 million people suffer from high blood pressure (hypertension) and 1.6 million French people start treatment each year.