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Am J Epidemiol. 2012 Oct 1;176 Suppl 7:S106-13. doi: 10.1093/aje/kws266.

Physical activity reduces salt sensitivity of blood pressure: the Genetic Epidemiology Network of Salt Sensitivity Study.

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Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana 70112, USA.


Salt sensitivity of blood pressure (BP) is influenced by genetic and environmental factors. A dietary feeding study was conducted from October 2003 to July 2005 that included a 7-day low-sodium intervention (51.3 mmol sodium/day) followed by a 7-day high-sodium intervention (307.8 mmol sodium/day) among 1,906 individuals who were 16 years of age or older and living in rural northern China. Salt sensitivity of BP was defined as mean BP change from the low-sodium intervention to the high-sodium intervention. Usual physical activity during the past 12 months was assessed at baseline using a standard questionnaire. The multivariable-adjusted means of systolic BP responses to high-sodium intervention were 5.21 mm Hg (95% confidence interval (CI): 4.55, 5.88), 4.97 mm Hg (95% CI: 4.35, 5.59), 5.02 mm Hg (95% CI: 4.38, 5.67), and 3.96 mm Hg (95% CI: 3.29, 4.63) among participants from the lowest to the highest quartiles of physical activity, respectively (P = 0.003 for linear trend). The multivariable-adjusted odds ratio of high salt sensitivity of systolic BP was 0.66 (95% CI: 0.49, 0.88) for persons in the highest quartile of physical activity compared with those in the lowest quartile. Physical activity is significantly, independently, and inversely related to salt sensitivity of BP and may be particularly effective in lowering BP among salt-sensitive individuals.

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