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Lancet. 1984 Apr 7;1(8380):757-61.

Blood-pressure response to moderate sodium restriction and to potassium supplementation in mild essential hypertension.


To determine whether moderate restriction of dietary sodium content or supplementation of potassium intake reduces blood-pressure in patients with mild essential hypertension, twelve patients were put on three different diets--a control diet (180 mmol sodium/day), a sodium restricted diet (80 mmol/day). Each diet was taken for at least 4 weeks and the sequence of the regimens was randomised. At the completion of each regimen intra-arterial pressure was recorded continuously, and vasoactive hormones were measured hourly, for 24 h, under standardised conditions, in hospital. Compared with the control diet, sodium restriction was associated with lower blood-pressure readings in seven patients, higher levels in five, and an overall reduction in mean pressures of only 4.0/3.0 mm Hg (not significant). Individual differences in blood-pressure between these two diets correlated closely with concomitant differences in plasma renin activity (r = 0.75). Potassium supplementation also resulted in variable changes in arterial pressure, and the mean difference in pressure recordings (0.1/0.8 mm Hg) was insignificant. The results show that moderate restriction of sodium intake or supplementation of dietary potassium has variable effects on arterial pressure in individuals with mild essential hypertension, and that overall the blood-pressure changes induced are very small. Responsiveness of the renin-angiotensin system may limit the fall in blood-pressure induced by sodium restriction.

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