Reducing dietary sodium may be more effective at lowering BP in women than in men, researchers reported in the Journal of Hypertension (2009;27:48-54).

Jiang He, MD, PhD, of Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, and colleagues conducted a dietary feeding study involving 1,906 Chinese subjects (the GenSalt study). Subjects were started on a seven-day low-salt diet (3 g/day). This was followed by a seven-day high-salt diet (18 g/day). Then, for the next seven days, participants stayed on the high-salt diet but also took a 60-mmol potassium supplement daily.

The low-salt diet decreased systolic and diastolic BP by 8.1 and 4.5 mm Hg, respectively, in women compared with 7.0 and 3.4 mm Hg in men. During the high-sodium diet, these pressures rose by 6.4 and 3.1 mm Hg, respectively, in women vs. 5.2 and 1.7 in men. During the high-salt/potassium-supplementation diet, systolic BP declined similarly for women and men (-4.45 and -4.43, respectively), but diastolic BP declined more in women (-2.1 vs. -1.5).

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Responses to sodium interventions increased with age, and both systolic and diastolic BP responses increased with baseline BP levels.