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Hypertension. 1991 Jan;17(1 Suppl):I9-15.

Findings of the International Cooperative INTERSALT Study.

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  • 1Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, Ill. 60611.


INTERSALT, an international cooperative study on electrolytes and other factors related to blood pressure, found, in within-population analyses involving 10,079 persons, a significant positive association between 24-hour urinary sodium excretion and systolic blood pressure and between the sodium/potassium ratio and systolic blood pressure. These significant findings were derived from analyses for individuals from all 52 centers and from the 48 centers remaining when persons from four low sodium centers were excluded. Potassium excretion of individuals was significantly and independently related inversely to their systolic blood pressure. For men and women, both separate and combined, the relation between sodium and systolic blood pressure was stronger for older than younger adults, perhaps reflecting the result of longer exposure with age or diminished capacity to handle a sodium load. Relations between electrolyte excretion and diastolic blood pressure in individuals were weaker than for systolic blood pressure. Body mass index and heavy alcohol consumption of individuals were strongly and independently related to blood pressure. In cross-population analyses with n = 52 or n = 48, sample median sodium excretion was significantly and independently related to the slope of systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure with age. Other ecological analyses yielded inconsistent results. Four isolated populations showed low sodium excretion, low sodium/potassium excretion, low body mass index, and low alcohol consumption; sample median blood pressures were low, there was little or no upward slope of blood pressure with age, and high blood pressure was rare or nonexistent.

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