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N Engl J Med. 1987 Oct 22;317(17):1043-8.

"Salt-sensitive" essential hypertension in men. Is the sodium ion alone important?

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Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of California at San Francisco 94143-0126.


We investigated whether the anionic component of an orally administered sodium salt can influence the salt's capacity to increase blood pressure. In five men with essential hypertension in whom blood pressure was normal with restriction of dietary sodium chloride to 10 mmol per day (0.23 g of sodium per day), oral administration of sodium chloride for seven days, 240 mmol per day (5.52 g of sodium per day), induced significant increases in systolic and diastolic blood pressures, of 16 +/- 2 and 8 +/- 2 mm Hg (mean +/- SEM), respectively (P less than 0.05). An equimolar amount of sodium given as sodium citrate induced no change in blood pressure. Replacing supplemental sodium chloride with an equimolar amount of sodium as sodium citrate abolished the increase in blood pressure induced by sodium chloride. Both salts induced substantial and comparable sodium retention, weight gain, and suppression of plasma renin activity and plasma aldosterone, but supplemental sodium chloride increased plasma volume and urinary excretion of calcium, whereas sodium citrate did not. These preliminary findings demonstrate that the anionic component of an orally administered sodium salt can influence the ability of that salt to increase blood pressure, possibly by determining whether the salt induces an increase in plasma volume. Our observations in a small group of men with salt-sensitive hypertension will require confirmation in larger numbers of patients of both sexes.

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