People with high blood pressure are not reducing their salt intake. Instead, they’re relying solely on medication to reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke. That’s the takeaway message from a group of Japanese researchers, who say it can lead to a vicious cycle for hypertension patients.
Not reducing salt intake leads to a need for more medications to treat a patient’s condition. That, in turn, can cause more side effects from the medication.
The researchers studied more than 12,000 patients who were already taking hypertension medication when they visited a doctor for a checkup. Their salt consumption was measured using a standard urine calculation formula.
Overall, the patients were largely able to meet and maintain their blood pressure goals during the seven-year study. However, salt intake increased across all the groups in the study. Less than 4 percent of participants were meeting the recommended guideline for salt consumption.
That strongly suggests their blood pressure improvements came from medications rather than dietary changes. In fact, medication use and salt intake seemed to be related. Salt consumption was higher among those who took multiple blood pressure medications than it was among those who took only a single drug.
In general, researchers said, relying on medications alone to reduce blood pressure is not a good long-term strategy for patients. Salt restriction is a proactive way to prevent high blood pressure and reduce over-reliance on medications.
In the United States, federal guidelines recommend 2,300 milligrams of salt a day — so watch your food labels closely and use the salt shaker sparingly.