why does high salt intake cause hypertension
Your body removes unwanted fluid by filtering your blood through your kidneys. Here any extra fluid is sucked out and put into your bladder to be removed as urine. To do this, your kidneys use osmosis to draw the extra water out of your blood. This process uses a delicate balance of sodium and potassium to pull the water across a wall of cells from the bloodstream into a collecting channel that leads to the bladder. Eating salt raises the amount of sodium in your bloodstream and wrecks the delicate balance, reducing the ability of your kidneys to remove the water. The result is a higher blood pressure due to the extra fluid and extra strain on the delicate blood vessels leading to the kidneys. Over time, this extra strain can damage the kidneys - known as kidney disease. This reduces their ability to filter out unwanted and toxic waste products, which then start to build up in the body. If kidney disease is left untreated and the blood pressure isn't lowered, the damage can lead to kidney failure. This is when the kidneys are no longer able to be filter the blood and the body slowly becomes poisoned by its own toxic waste products.
If you have high blood pressure and are being treated with a diuretic medication, this makes the kidneys remove more fluid from the bloodstream. Because the sodium in salt counteracts this effect, reducing your salt intake will make your blood pressure medicine more effective.
When you think about blood pressure, your kidneys may not come to mind. But when these bean-shaped organs sustainб damage or are thrown off balance Б perhaps by heavy salt intake Б both your blood pressure and yourб heart may feel the repercussions. Your kidneys filter more thanб. They pull toxins and unwanted fluid from cells throughout the body, then send them to the bladder. Eating too much salt can make it harder for your kidneys to remove fluid, which builds up in your system and increases your blood pressure. Over time, excessive salt intake can lead to high blood pressure (hypertension), which stiffens and narrows the blood vessels.
Blood and oxygen flow to key organs decreases. So the heart tries harder to pump blood throughout the body, which further increases blood pressure. БElevated blood pressure, particularly over a long period of time, puts an incredible strain on theб heart,Б says, Head of Clinical Cardiology. It can enlarge the heartБs left pumping chamber and weaken the heart muscle ( ). Unchecked hypertension can also damage the artery walls, which begin to collect fat, leading to heart disease and potentially heart attack or stroke. БThe best way to prevent a heart attack is to stop the arteries from becoming damaged,Б says Dr. Barzilai. You can see this chicken-or-egg effect with high blood pressure and kidney disease as well. б puts extra pressure onб the kidneysБ filtering units, which can lead to scarring. This impairs the kidneysБ ability to regulate fluid, which increases blood pressure. БIf this cycle is not stopped, it can lead toб б and kidney failure,Б says hypertension specialist.
БHigh blood pressure and uncontrolled diabetes are the most common causes of kidney disease. Б Unfortunately, the vast majority of people with kidney disease donБt realize they have it. The signs and symptoms may be attributed to other conditions, and usually appear when the kidneys have already begun to fail. б Here are symptoms to watch for, according to the National Kidney Foundation: Dry, itchy skin Swelling in the ankles, feet or around the eyes If you are experiencing any of these symptoms Б particularly if you are at risk of kidney disease because youБre over age 60, have diabetes or have a family history of kidney failure Б talk to your doctor about your salt intake. Salt affects people differently. БSome people can consume sodium with no effect on their blood pressure. But for others, even a slight increase in sodium intake wreaks havoc on the kidneysБ ability to regulate fluid, and increases blood pressure,Б says Dr. Thomas.
Salt sensitivity is most prevalent among the middle-aged and elderly, the overweight and obese, and African-Americans. One of the first things your doctor will recommend is Eating aб (less than 2 grams of sodium per day), especially if youБre at risk. Limitingб alcohol. Exercising regularly. Maintaining a healthy weight. Yet Бmany people do not respond to salt restriction and lifestyle changes alone,Б notes Dr. Barzilai. They may also need medication to lower your blood pressure, such as: Diuretics, or water pills, which increase urination to help discharge excess fluid. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), which help to relax blood vessels. Besides encouraging you to keep hypertension and diabetes under control, your doctor may test you annually for kidney disease. Working with your doctor to ensure that salt intake is not raising your blood pressure and impacting your heart and kidneys can have a dramatic impact on your health and longevity.
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