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Stress Dangerously Elevates Black People’s Sodium, Blood Pressure

When stressed, about 30 percent of blacks hold onto too much sodium, the equivalent of eating a small order of fast food French fries or a small bag of potato chips, researchers say.

“This response pattern puts you under a greater blood pressure load over the course of the day and probably throughout the night as well, increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Gregory Harshfield, hypertension researcher at the Institute of Public and Preventive Health at Georgia Health Sciences University.

In response to stress, they hold onto about 160 milligrams of salt, and the top number of their blood pressure — indicating the pressure inside blood vessels each time the heart beats — goes up about seven points more than normal and stays elevated about an hour longer, said Harshfield, who is presenting his findings Sept. 7 during the Behavioural Economics, Hypertension Session of the Psychogenic Cardiovascular Disease Conference in Prato, Italy.

Over the course of the day, this response adds a daily sodium load of about 500 milligrams on top of typically salt-heavy diets. The Institute of Medicine recommends a daily sodium intake of less than 2,300 milligrams — preferably under 1,500 milligrams — while average consumption is about 3,700.

“Everybody knows stress is bad for you and everybody has the perception that a high-salt diet is bad for you, and both are particularly bad for these individuals,” said Harshfield who is trying to find an easy way to identify them. “Every time they are stressed, they hold onto as much salt as you get eating a small order of French fries and this can occur many times over the course of even a good day.”

The worse news is this increased retention likely causes blood pressures to stay elevated even during sleep, which should be a recuperative time for the body, Harshfield said. Nighttime blood pressures often are considered the truest reading since they should not be impacted by stress.

In a handful of young blacks identified as sodium retainers through a complex research protocol, Harshfield has shown that the dangerous sodium load can be lifted with angiotensin receptor blockers…

Read more: Science Daily

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