High dietary sodium has adverse effects on multiple target organs and tissues including the blood vessels, heart, kidneys and brain; and this happens even in the absence of high blood pressure, revealed a review paper co-authored by two faculty members in the University of Delaware College of Health Sciences and two physicians at Christiana Care Health System.
Potential effects of high dietary sodium intake on the arteries include reduced function of the endothelium, which is the inner lining of blood vessels. Endothelial cells mediate several processes, including coagulation, platelet adhesion and immune function. Excess dietary sodium can also increase arterial stiffness.
The scientists found that high dietary sodium can also lead to left ventricular hypertrophy, or enlargement of the muscle tissue that makes up the wall of the heart's main pumping chamber. The study findings suggest that high sodium is associated with reduced renal function, a decline observed with only a minimal increase in blood pressure. High sodium may also affect the sympathetic nervous system, which activates what is often termed the fight-or-flight response.
The paper has been published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.