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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How does salt contribute to hypertension?

    My doctor has suggested that I switch to a low sodium diet. I would like to understand how this will help with my high blood pressure.
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  • 2

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    Angela Peris

    Registered Nurse

    I am passionate about helping people with Health and Wellbeing - with extensive knowledge and skills on cardiology and critical care nursing I have published … View Profile

    The simplest way to explain this mechanism is  ……
    Salt draws water in to the cells. It retains water within the body. Extra water increases blood volume. When there is an increase in the blood volume, it makes the heart work harder. When you suffer from high blood pressure, your heart is already working harder to push the blood through the narrowed arteries and trying to get the blood around the body due to excess boidy mass. By having extra salt which retains and increases your water, will make your heart work harder. When the heart muscle have to push blood against extra resisitance (due to high blood pressure) your heart muscle can get thincker - like when you lift weights your muscles in the upper arm gets thicker. Yet, when this happens in the pumping chamber (Left Ventricle) it becomes inefficient in pumping enough blood through the body.

    This is the reason medical practitioners would recommend you to keep your salt intake down and switch to a low sodium diet.

    Hope this answers your question.

  • 1

    Thanks

    Chris Fonda

    Dietitian, Nutritionist, Sports Dietitian

    As an Accredited Sports Dietitian, APD and athlete (springboard diver), Chris has both professional and personal experience in sport at the sub-elite and elite level.Chris … View Profile

    Great explaination Angela! To add, you may want to seek the expert advice of an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) who can help you to lower the salt in your diet. APDs can advise you on what to look for on food labels in terms of the lowest salt options, give you alternatives to flavour your food such as herbs and spices instead of using salt and give you other dietary recommendations such as the incorporation of omega-3 fatty acids which may help to reduce the inflammation that high blood pressure can cause if left untreated. the DASH diet has been proven effective in reducing high blood pressure and an APD can help you to adapt your lifestyle, behavioural and eating habits to suit this type of diet :)

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