|EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE
Wednesday, May 17, 2000
12:00 p.m. EDT
NHLBI Communications Office
Bob Schwadron, ASH Press Room
(212) 536 - 4953
NHLBI Study Shows Large Blood Pressure Benefit From Reduced Dietary Sodium
- At each of the three levels of sodium intake, blood pressure was lower for those on the DASH diet than for those on the control diet. For example, at the currently recommended level of 2,400 milligrams of sodium a day, the DASH diet reduced systolic blood pressure by an average of 5.0 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by an average of 2.5 mm Hg.
- For the usual diet, reducing sodium intake from higher to lower levels decreased systolic blood pressure by an average of 6.7 mm Hg and diastolic by an average of 3.5 mm Hg. More than half of that reduction occurred when participants reduced their sodium intake from the intermediate to the lower level.
- When going from the higher to the lower level of sodium intake, participants without hypertension had substantial reductions in blood pressure, whether they were on the usual diet or the DASH diet.
Those on the lower sodium intake, as well as those on the DASH diet, had fewer headaches. Otherwise, there were no significant differences in adverse effects among the two eating plans or different sodium levels.
“The results show that those with hypertension should follow the DASH eating plan at a reduced sodium intake to help lower their blood pressure,” said Dr. Frank Sacks, chair of the DASH-Sodium Steering Committee and Associate Professor of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard Medical School.
DASH-Sodium also found that both sodium reduction and the DASH diet had a substantial effect on the blood pressure of African Americans.
“African Americans have more hypertension than other Americans,” said Sacks. “The finding suggests that more than sodium may play a role in African Americans’ blood pressure, and they would benefit from adopting an eating plan similar to that of a lower sodium DASH diet.”
“The study shows how important it is to reduce sodium in the diet. The findings suggest that the current recommendation for how much dietary sodium Americans should consume may need to be lowered. By reducing their dietary sodium to 1,500 milligrams a day, all Americans, and especially those at high risk for hypertension, can decrease their chance of developing high blood pressure as they age,” said Dr. Eva Obarzanek, an NHLBI nutritionist and Project Officer for DASH-Sodium.
“To make that change,” she continued, “Americans should cut down on processed foods-the biggest source of sodium in the diet-use food labels as a guide to choose items lower in salt and sodium, flavor foods with spices instead of salt, and remove the salt shaker from the table. The food industry also needs to help by reducing the amount of salt they put into food products. It would help to make more low-salt food products available.
“Reducing sodium benefits blood pressure whatever your eating plan,” added Obarzanek. “But for a true winning combination, follow the DASH diet and lower your intake of sodium.”
Both DASH studies were conducted by investigators from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC, The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, the Pennington Biomedical Research Center of the Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA, and the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, OR.
To arrange an interview about DASH-Sodium, contact the NHLBI Communications Office at (301) 496-4236.
NHLBI press releases, a high blood pressure Web site, and other materials are available online at www.nhlbi.nih.gov.