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Psychophysiology. 2008 May;45(3):405-11. Epub 2007 Nov 28.

Dietary sodium effects on heart rate variability in salt sensitivity of blood pressure.

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Laboratory of Cardiovascular Science, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.


High dietary sodium intake is a risk factor for hypertension, and heart rate variability (HRV) is decreased in hypertension. Effects of dietary sodium intake on HRV of normotensive persons have not, however, been investigated to date. The present study examined effects of low and high sodium diets on blood pressure, heart rate, and HRV in 36 healthy, normotensive women, ages 40-70. Each was placed on a low sodium diet for 6 days followed by a high sodium diet for 6 days. The high salt diet increased mean systolic blood pressure, decreased heart rate, and increased high frequency HRV (HF). Cardiac vagal tone, estimated at baseline from heart period and a time domain estimate of respiratory sinus arrhythmia, was higher in salt-sensitive than salt-insensitive subjects. The finding of increased vagal tone in normotensive persons on high salt intake indicates that dietary sodium status should be considered in behavioral studies of HRV.

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