Salt and Blood Pressure – Understanding the Link
Hypertension, also referred to as high blood pressure has become very common, these days. In fact, the health condition has become one of the major causes of concern across the world. In India, the condition is worst. It is shocking but true that one in three Indians suffer from hypertension. Researches and studies suggest that high salt intake affects one’s blood pressure and even increases the risk of various other diseases such as stroke, proteinuria, and cardiovascular problems.
Salt is a crystalline mineral. It is made from sodium chloride. In India and many countries across the globe, salt is used as a seasoning in foods. It is also used as a preserving agent.
Human beings are known to have an innate taste for salt. The human taste buds identify six major tastes which includes salt. The moment we taste something consisting mineral, the taste buds immediately sends a signal “salt” to the brain.
Salt and its Effect on Body
The amount of salt you eat has a direct effect on your blood pressure.
Salt makes your body hold on to water. When you eat too much salt, extra water is stored in your body. This raises blood pressure. Hence, the more salt you eat, the higher your blood pressure.
The moment blood pressure raises, the strain on your heart and other parts of body such as kidneys, arteries, and brain is greater. The situation leads problems such as strokes, heart attacks, dementia, and kidney disease.
Medications can lower high blood pressure. However, lack of control on salt intake or consuming excess salt can deter the working of blood pressure medicines.
Salt Increases Blood Pressure
Salt is the culprit in hypertension. How? Excess sodium causes the body to retain more water than necessary. This increases the volume and in turn, increases the blood pressure. It is also believed that excess intake of sodium acts directly on the heart cells as well as blood vessels. It hardens them which leads to reduced ability to contract and expand normally.
The blood pressure fluctuates as consumption of salt varies. This is referred to as ‘salt sensitivity’. There are many significant variations. However, the elderly, obese persons and individuals with chronic kidney disease are more vulnerable to salt sensitivity.