Researchers clarify link between salt, hypertension

Updated: Jan 12, 2012, 17:14 PM IST

Washington: Excessive salt intake might not cause high blood pressure (BP) or hypertension by exerting pressure on the arteries, reveals a study.

"The erroneous concept has prevailed for many years, even though scientific evidence has mounted against it," said Irene Gavras, who led the study with Haralambos Gavras. Both are professors at the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM).

The term volume-expanded hypertension implies that excess salt leads to the retention of extra fluid within the arterial system, causing an increase in blood volume and added pressure on arterial walls, the Journal of Hypertension reported.

However, research has shown that conditions characterised by the expansion of blood volume from other causes, such as the excessive elevation of blood sugar, do not cause a rise in BP because the extra fluid is accommodated by the expansion of capillaries and veins, a university statement said.

"The body`s circulatory system is a highly flexible vascular system with the capacity to open up new capillaries and distend veins in order to accommodate increased fluid volume," said Gavras.