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Am J Med Sci. 1999 Mar;317(3):152-9.

What is the role of dietary sodium and potassium in hypertension and target organ injury?

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.


There is substantial evidence from both observational epidemiology studies and randomized controlled trials that dietary intake of sodium and potassium is important in the etiology of hypertension. However, the direct evidence for a direct link between dietary sodium and potassium and risk of cardiovascular and renovascular events is limited. Epidemiological studies should be designed to examine the relationship between dietary intake of sodium and potassium and risk of stroke, coronary heart disease, left ventricular hypertrophy, and renal disease in a prospective manner. In these studies, dietary intake of sodium and potassium should be estimated using multiple 24-hour urine collections. These studies should be focused on African Americans because they are at a disproportionately high risk of developing hypertension and blood pressure-related vascular disease. Moreover, this group has been underrepresented in most previous epidemiological studies.

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