High Blood Pressure: Study Suggests Women Might Be More Salt-Sensitive Than Men

If blood pressure is not controlled or regulated, it can birth many cardiovascular problems. According to WHO, around 1.3 billion adults (ages 30-79) worldwide have hypertension. A common factor behind elevation in blood pressure is salt sensitivity. Recently, WHO raised a concern that globally people have been consuming more salt than required and this has been directly contributing to increased cardiovascular disease burden. A new study has shown that women of all ages are more salt sensitive than men. This can be extremely crucial in the management of blood pressure by regulating salt intake.

The global average salt intake is estimated to be 10.8 grams per day which is more than double the WHO recommended quantity of 5 grams a day.

What makes women more salt sensitive?

Salt sensitivity might be understood as the body’s tendency to hold onto salt rather than excrete it out through the kidneys. A review published in the journal Hypertension showed that women of all ages and ethnicities are more salt sensitive than men and the tendency to hold on to salt increases after menopause. As per studies, a strong relationship exists between salt and raised blood pressure. Studies have shown that in many people, dietary salt intake can cause a noticeable elevation of blood pressure. As per the American Heart Association, salt sensitivity is present in roughly 51 per cent of hypertension.

Studies have recognized the role of reproductive or sex hormones in the regulation of the cardiovascular system. The role of oestrogen in the regulation of blood pressure has been in discussion for a long. It has been suggested that as a woman hits menopause and loses her cardiovascular advantage due to lower levels of oestrogen, salt-sensitive blood pressure might see a rise in women.

As per some quoted experts, animal evidence shows that females might be better at excreting salt through the kidneys. However, some salt might be needed to maintain the elasticity of blood vessels. Blood vessels do not relax in many women, making them more prone to salt-sensitive BP changes.

Why excess salt is harmful?

The American Heart Association explains that when there is excess sodium in the body, it pulls in more water into the bloodstream. This causes the blood pressure to rise and further damages the arteries. A situation like this over a period can lead to hypertension, heart disease, stroke and other health complications. Some studies have also found sodium to overstimulate the immune system, thus increasing the risk of autoimmune diseases.

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