Purpose of review: This review will discuss some relevant and novel studies on the relationship between sodium intake and cardiovascular structure and function, focusing on blood pressure independent effects of salt on the heart, arteries, and kidneys.
Recent findings: Several new reports clearly demonstrate the role of high dietary salt in mediating cardiovascular and renal morbidity and mortality including stroke, myocardial infarction, arterial stiffening, heart failure, and renal insufficiency. A number of recent studies also indicate that in addition to increased sodium intake, simultaneous decrease in potassium intake may aggravate adverse cardiovascular and renal manifestations.
Summary: It is now generally accepted that there is a direct positive correlation between dietary salt and arterial pressure. Thus, the beneficial effects of dietary salt reduction are, at least in part, due to a decrease in arterial pressure. Furthermore, the beneficial, pressure-independent effects of sodium restriction on the heart, blood vessels, and kidneys are being increasingly recognized, but not generally appreciated.