Sodium Inake or Salt and High Blood Pressure or Hypertension by NgoRN


									                                                                                                                  March 2010

National Institutes of Health • Department of Health and Human Services •

Inside News: 3 All About Aneurysms... 4 Light and Migraine Pain... Mobile Health... We Can!

The Salty Stuff
Salt, Blood Pressure and Your Health
Salt is essential to our body’s                                                            beats. The numbers 120/80 mmHg
fluids. That’s likely why we                                                                are the ones you should aim to
evolved to enjoy its taste. On                                                               keep your blood pressure below.
the other hand, anyone who’s                                                                     Some research also suggests
gotten a mouth full of sea-                                                                    that excessive salt intake might
water knows that too much                                                                     increase the risk of stomach
salt tastes terrible. Maybe                                                                cancer. Scientists continue to in-
your body’s trying to tell                                                                vestigate this possible connection.
you something. It turns                                                                          Researchers do know that not
out that too much salt                                                                            everyone is equally sensitive
can lead to a host of                                                                               to salt. “From our experi-
health problems.                                                                                    ments, we know there’s
    The chemical name                                                                               lots of variation in the
for dietary salt, or                                                                                 blood pressure response,”
table salt, is sodium                                                                                Loria says. Certain groups
chloride. Since 90%                                                                                  of people see greater
of the sodium we                                                                                      reductions in blood pres-
ingest is from                                                                                         sure when they lower
salt, it’s difficult                                                                                  their salt intake: African-
to separate the                                                                                      Americans, older people
effects of salt and                                                                                 and people with blood
sodium in many                                                                                     pressure above normal.
studies. However,                                                                                   “Within those groups,
it’s the sodium part                                                                         there’s a lot of variation be-
most doctors focus on.                                                                 tween people.” Loria says. But about
                                           that a higher salt intake raises blood
    “The best known effect of sodium                                                   1 in 3 adults nationwide has high
                                           pressure. Reducing salt intake, on the
on health is the relationship between                                                  blood pressure right now. Another
                                           other hand, lowers blood pressure.
sodium and blood pressure,” explains                                                   third have “prehypertension,” mean-
                                              Blood pressure is the force of
Dr. Catherine Loria of NIH’s National                                                  ing their blood pressure numbers are
                                           blood pushing against the walls of
Heart, Lung and Blood Institute                                                        high enough to put them at risk to
                                           arteries as the heart pumps out
(NHLBI). Dozens of studies, in both                                                    develop high blood pressure. In light
                                           blood. When this pressure rises—a
animals and people, have shown                                                         of this, she says, “it’s really important
                                           condition called high blood pressure,
                                                                                       for the majority of the population to
                                           or hypertension—it can damage the
                                                                                       reduce their blood pressure.”
                                           body in many ways over time. High
         Definitions                       blood pressure has been linked to
                                                                                          Experts recommend that people
                                                                                       take in less than 2,400 milligrams of
                                           heart disease, stroke, kidney failure
 Arteries                                  and other health problems.                                      continued on page 2
 The vessels that carry blood from            There are 2 blood pressure num-
 your heart throughout your body.          bers, and they’re usually written with
                                           one above or before the other. Systol-
 Stroke                                    ic, the first, is the pressure when the
 When normal blood flow to                 heart beats, pumping blood through                                    .n
 the brain is stopped, usually by          the arteries. Diastolic is the pressure                news in health
 ruptured or blocked blood vessels.        when the heart is at rest between
 2 March 2010                            

continued from page 1                                                                                                   The salt we sprinkle on our food
sodium a day—that’s what’s in about                                        Web Links                                 actually accounts for less than 10% of
                                                                                                                     our salt consumption. Most of the salt
6 grams of salt, or about a teaspoon.
                                                                   For links to more information about               we eat salt comes in processed foods
People with high blood pressure
                                                                          salt, see this story online:               from stores, restaurants and dining
should shoot for 1,500 milligrams
                                                                                                                     halls. You may already know that fast
or less—about 3.7 grams of salt. But                    food, cold cuts and canned foods
right now, the average man in the
                                                                                                                     tend to have a lot of salt.
United States takes in over 10 grams                          day could cut the number of new                           “Many people don’t realize that a
of salt per day and the average                               cases of heart disease each year by                    lot of our salt is from breads and cere-
woman over 7.                                                 as many as 120,000, stroke by 66,000                   als,” Bibbins-Domingo says. Studies
   Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo at the                         and heart attack by nearly 100,000.                    have found that over 20% of the salt
University of California, San Fran-                           It could also prevent up to 92,000                     in the average American’s diet comes
cisco, recently led an NIH-funded                             deaths each year. All segments of the                  from grain products, such as breads,
study that used computer modeling                             population would benefit, with Afri-                   cereals, crackers and chips.
to explore the effects of a modest                            can-Americans having the greatest                         “In terms of advice, I think the best
reduction in salt intake in the United                        improvements overall. Women would guidance we have is for people to
States. The researchers found that                            particularly benefit from reductions                   pay attention to nutrition facts on the
reducing salt intake by 3 grams per                           in stroke, older adults from a decline                 labels,” Loria says. “The percent daily
                                                              in heart disease and younger adults                    value is a better guide than the lan-
                                                              from fewer deaths.                                     guage that’s used on food labels like
                     Wise Choices                                Some countries have already be-                     ‘low-salt.’ These labels can be confus-
                                                              gun to tackle this problem using vari- ing because they have very defined
                     Cut Back on Sodium
                                                              ous strategies, such as working with                   technical meanings.” Try to select
  n Look at Nutrition Facts labels                            industry to reduce the salt content in                 foods, she advises, with less than 5%
         and try to choose foods that                         processed foods, requiring labels on                   of the daily value of salt per serving.
         have less than 5% of the Daily                       ready-to-eat foods and educating the                      Even small reductions can have
         Value of sodium per serving.                         public. The UK has achieved a 10%                      an effect on your blood pressure. If
                                                              reduction in salt consumption over                     you can’t find a low-salt alternative
  n Use fresh poultry, fish and                               the past 4 years.                                      to a particular food, it still helps to
         lean meat, rather than                                  But wouldn’t we all miss the taste?
         canned, smoked or processed.                                                                                pick something that’s lower than
                                                              “Several studies have shown that as                    what you’re already consuming. “You
  n Choose fresh or frozen                                    you gradually reduce sodium intake,                    can find remarkable variation in the
         vegetables that have no                              you lessen your desire for salty food,”                amount of salt across major brands of
         added salt.                                          Loria says. And surveys of people                      food,” Bibbins-Domingo says. “Even
  n Rinse canned foods to                                     across the UK have found that most                     without choosing something labeled
         remove some of the sodium.                           people didn’t notice any difference in ‘low sodium,’ you can often find a
                                                              the taste of their food.                               lower sodium alternative.”
  n In cooking and at the table,
         cut back on salt and flavor                             “A very modest decrease in the                         Beyond salt, a healthy eating plan
         foods with herbs, spices,                            amount of salt, hardly detectable in                   can help keep your blood pressure
         lemon, lime, vinegar or salt-                        the taste of food, can have dramatic                   under control. Check out NHLBI’s Di-
         free seasoning blends.                               health benefits for the U.S.,” Bibbins-                etary Approaches to Stop Hyperten-
                                                              Domingo stresses.                                      sion (DASH) eating plan at www.nhlbi.
  NIH News in Health (ISSN 1556-3898)                                                                                lifestyle measures can help you keep
                                                                                                                     your blood pressure down, too. Lose
  National Institutes of Health                       Editor Harrison Wein, Ph.D.                                    weight if you’re overweight or obese.
  Office of Communications                            Assistant Editor Vicki Contie
  & Public Liaison
                                                                                                                     Get regular physical activity. Quit
                                                      Contributors Vicki Contie, Bryan Ewsichek (design),            smoking. And manage your stress.
  Building 31, Room 5B64                              Margaret Georgiann (illustrations) and Harrison Wein
  Bethesda, MD 20892-2094                                                                                            The more of these steps you take, the                                                                                         more likely you’ll be to avoid related
  Tel: 301-435-7489 Fax: 301-496-0019                                                  health problems.
  Attention Editors Reprint our articles and
                                                                                                                               Why not start now? Make
  illustrations in your own publication. Our material  For more health information from NIH, visit                          small changes at first, and then
  is not copyrighted. Please acknowledge NIH News                                                                           keep working to gradually low-
  in Health as the source and send us a copy.                           er your family’s salt intake. n
                                                                       March 2010 3

When Blood Vessels Bulge
All About Aneurysms
An aneurysm—a balloon-like bulge          ruptured brain aneu-
in an artery—can develop and grow         rysm, which is a type
for years without causing any symp-       of stroke.
toms. But an aneurysm is a silent             Who’s at risk for
threat to your health.                    aneurysm? “We know
   If an aneurysm grows too large,        that family his-
it can burst open, or rupture, and        tory plays a
lead to dangerous bleeding inside         role,” says Dr.
the body. Aneurysms can also cause        Eser Tolunay of
a split within the layers of an artery    NIH’s National
wall. This split, called a dissection,    Heart, Lung
can lead to bleeding within the ar-       and Blood
tery’s layers. Aneurysms that rupture     Institute.
or dissect can cause sudden death.        “About 20% of
   Many aneurysms occur in deep           aortic aneu-
inside the chest, abdomen or brain.       rysms have a
Most appear in the aorta—the main         genetic com-
artery that carries blood from the        ponent.” Other
heart down through the center of          factors that can
the body. About 14,000 Americans          weaken the walls of arteries and lead      reason,” says Tolunay. “Sometimes, if
die each year from aortic aneurysms.      to aneurysms include smoking, high         an abdominal aortic aneurysm is big
Three-fourths of these aneurysms          blood pressure, atherosclerosis (the       enough, the doctor might be able to
arise in the lower part of the aorta.     buildup of fatty deposits in the arter-    feel it during a routine physical.”
These are called abdominal aortic         ies), infections and trauma, such as a         If you have an aneurysm, medica-
aneurysms (AAA). Aneurysms that           car crash.                                 tions can help lower your blood pres-
occur in the chest are called thoracic        Age and gender also contribute to      sure and reduce the risk of rupture.
aortic aneurysms (TAA).                   risk. Aortic aneurysms are most com-       If the aneurysm is small, your doctor
   About 1 in 50 people has some          mon in men after age 65. Brain aneu-       may recommend regular checkups
type of aneurysm in the brain. Many       rysms appear more often in women           to monitor its size. Large or quickly
of these are small and cause no           between 30 and 60 years of age.            growing aneurysms may be treated
real problems. But each year about            The symptoms of an aneurysm            with surgery, although surgery for
27,000 people in the U.S. have a          can vary widely and depend on its          brain aneurysms carries many risks.
                                          location and size. Large AAAs might        Options for aortic aneurysms include
                                          cause a throbbing in the abdomen.          open surgery, which removes the an-
                                          Large TAAs may lead to pain in the         eurysm, or endovascular repair, which
          Wise Choices                                                               strengthens the aorta by inserting a
                                          back, jaw, neck or chest. Brain aneu-
          Aneurysms:                                                                 tube, or stent.
                                          rysms can cause pain around the eye
          Reduce Your Risk                                                               Talk with your doctor if you have a
                                          or numbness on one side of the face.
  You can’t control your genes or             If an aneurysm ruptures or dissects,   family history of aneurysms or other
  certain other risk factors, but         get immediate medical attention.           risk factors. People at high risk may
  taking these steps might lower          Sudden, severe pain in the lower           need routine screening to find and
  your risk of aneurysm and its           abdomen and back can indicate a            monitor an aneurysm. “If you’re con-
  complications:                          ruptured AAA. Dissected or ruptured        cerned, get checked,” says Tolunay.
                                          TAAs may cause sharp pain that trav-       “And certainly lifestyle changes—like
  n Quit smoking.
                                          els from the upper back to the abdo-       stopping smoking—can help.” n
  n Keep your blood pressure and          men. Ruptured brain aneurysms can
    cholesterol levels in check.          cause a sudden, intense headache.
  n Follow a healthy diet and                 However, because most aneurysms                    Web Links
    exercise regularly.                   have no symptoms, they’re often
                                                                                        For links to more information about
  n If your family members have           found by chance during a doctor vis-
                                          it. “Many aneurysms are found when             aneurysms, see this story online:
    had aneurysms, talk to your
    doctor about being screened.          a patient is getting images—like   
                                          MRI or CT scans—done for another
 4 March 2010                      

 Health Capsules                                                                       For links to more information, see these stories online:

How Light Boosts Migraine Pain
Light can make migraine pain worse.           perceive images.                             pupil enlarge or shrink in response
A new study of blind patients may                When the 14 patients were ex-             to light.
help explain why. The finding could           posed to light, their migraine pain             Animal studies showed that these
eventually lead to better treatments.         got worse. In contrast, light had no         rare cells carry light signals through
   More than 1 in 10 people nation-           effect on the 6 volunteers who were          the optic nerve and on to brain cells
wide get recurring migraines—often            totally blind. The scientists concluded      that transmit pain. The research sug-
described as a pulsing or throbbing           that the optic nerve must play a key         gests that non-image-forming eye
in one area of the head. To discover          role in light-induced migraine.              cells may help trigger migraines.
how light can worsen the pain, NIH-              The researchers then searched for            “Clinically, this research sets the
funded scientists studied 20 blind            the cells in the eye that might trigger      stage for identifying ways to block
patients who suffer from migraines.           the pain. They knew that the eye’s           the pathway so that migraine pa-
   Six of the volunteers couldn’t             main light-detecting and image-              tients can endure light without pain,”
detect any light, either because their        producing cells were not responsible,        says lead researcher Dr. Rami Burstein
eyes were removed due to disease              because these cells were damaged             of Harvard Medical School. n
or because of damage to the optic             in the 14 blind patients. Instead, the
nerves, which connect the eyes to the         researchers focused on rare light-
brain. The other 14 patients could            sensing cells that help maintain the                     Featured Web Site
detect some light but couldn’t                sleep-wake cycle and help the eye’s                      We Can!

Health on the Go                                                                            
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