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Dietary sodium, potassium, and alcohol: key players in the pathophysiology, prevention, and treatment of human hypertension

Authors


Correspondence: C Koliaki, Athens University Medical School, 38 Gavriilidou Street, 11141 Athens, Greece. E-mail: ckoliaki@yahoo.com. Phone: +30-6932377826. Fax: +30-2106109081.

Abstract

Western industrialized societies are currently experiencing an epidemic expansion of hypertension (HTN), which extends alarmingly even to children and adolescents. HTN constitutes an independent risk factor for cardiorenal disease and represents an extremely common comorbidity of diabetes and obesity. Numerous randomized clinical trials and meta-analyses have provided robust scientific evidence that reduced dietary salt intake, increased dietary potassium intake, moderation of alcohol consumption, optimal weight maintenance, and the adoption of “heart-friendly” dietary patterns such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension or the Mediterranean diet can effectively lower blood pressure. Interestingly, the susceptibility of blood pressure to nutritional interventions is greatly variable among individuals, depending on age, race, genetic background, and comorbidities. The purpose of this review is to provide a comprehensive overview of currently available scientific evidence in the constantly evolving field of diet and HTN, placing particular emphasis on the key role of dietary sodium, dietary potassium, and alcohol intake in the pathophysiology, prevention, and treatment of human hypertension.

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