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Why is Blood Pressure in Women More Sensitive to High Salt Diet?

MedicalResearch.comInterview with:

Eric J. BELIN de Chantemèle, D.Sc.
Associate Professor
Department of Medicine, Cardiology
Augusta University

Eric JBelin de Chantemèle, D.Sc.
Associate Professor
Department of Medicine, Cardiology
Vascular Biology Center
Augusta University

Jessica L Faulkner, PhD
Post-doctoral Fellow
Vascular Biology Center
Augusta University  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: It is generally accepted in the medical community that women are more salt sensitive than men. By “salt sensitive” we mean that blood pressure increases with increases in salt in the diet.

While we have known for a long time that women are more likely to experience problems with their blood pressure that are associated with the salt that they eat, the reasons why remain largely unknown and, therefore, the best way to treat it is also unknown. With the average American eating roughly twice the salt recommended by the American Heart Association guidelines, the effects of dietary salt on blood pressure are very important. Our latest publication in the journal American Heart Association’s journal Hypertension shows that female mice are more prone to high blood pressure when on a high salt diet than males. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Our report begins to shed some light on why women may have a greater risk of developing high blood pressure due to eating too much salt. We recently found that a hormone, termed “aldosterone” is acting inappropriately in females in response to a lot of salt in the diet. In healthy individuals who are not salt sensitive, aldosterone is decreased by salt in the diet and is protective to the blood vessels. However, in female mice it is less likely that aldosterone will be decreased, and this lack of decrease of aldosterone leads to blood vessel damage and high blood pressure in our study.In contrast, our male mice in our study suppressed aldosterone when given a high salt diet, and did not develop blood vessel damage or high blood pressure.We believe this variation in aldosterone production in women may be a reason why they are clinically more likely to have a blood pressure response to high salt diets.

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