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Physiol Rev. 2005 Apr;85(2):679-715.

Links between dietary salt intake, renal salt handling, blood pressure, and cardiovascular diseases.

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Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale U367, Département de Santé Publique et d'Informatique Médicale, Faculté de Médecine Broussais Hôtel Dieu, Paris, France.


Epidemiological, migration, intervention, and genetic studies in humans and animals provide very strong evidence of a causal link between high salt intake and high blood pressure. The mechanisms by which dietary salt increases arterial pressure are not fully understood, but they seem related to the inability of the kidneys to excrete large amounts of salt. From an evolutionary viewpoint, the human species is adapted to ingest and excrete <1 g of salt per day, at least 10 times less than the average values currently observed in industrialized and urbanized countries. Independent of the rise in blood pressure, dietary salt also increases cardiac left ventricular mass, arterial thickness and stiffness, the incidence of strokes, and the severity of cardiac failure. Thus chronic exposure to a high-salt diet appears to be a major factor involved in the frequent occurrence of hypertension and cardiovascular diseases in human populations.

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