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Stress Leads to Salt Retention in Some People

Update Date: Sep 08, 2012 10:28 AM EDT

Some components of stress are race specific, say researchers from Georgia Health Sciences University who announce that about 30 percent of blacks hold onto approximately 160 milligrams of salt when they are stressed, the equivalent of a medium order of fries or bag of chips.

Researchers also note that while their blood pressure elevates seven points higher than normal, and stays high for over an hour longer than others.

"This response pattern puts you under a greater blood pressure load over the course of the day and probably throughout the night as well, increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease," explains Dr. Gregory Harshfield, hypertension researcher at the Institute of Public and Preventive Health at Georgia Health Sciences University.

The Institute of Medicine and WebMD recommends a daily sodium intake of 1,500 miligrams. However, the report reveals that the average consumption is 3,.700. Blacks with high propensity to retain salt when stressed add about 500 milligrams to this already high sodium diet.

But the worst news is that this increased retention likely causes blood pressures to stay elevated even during sleep, which should be a recuperative time for the body, Harshfield said. Nighttime blood pressures often are considered the truest reading since they should not be impacted by stress.

Researchers note that while stress is bad for you, a low-sodium diet for some can also negatively impact blood pressures.

The latest findings come from a $10.6 million Program Project grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute focused on how the body regulates blood pressure in response to stress.

His studies have long focused on the kidney and years ago found that about 30 percent of blacks and about 10 percent of whites tend to hold onto more sodium for longer periods in response to stress. Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, which drives the - hopefully temporary - increase in blood pressure.

Though researchers are not sure whether blood pressure retainers are in fact impacted in the long-term.

The Findings were presented yesterday, September 7 during the Behavioural Economics, Hypertension Session of the Psychogenic Cardiovascular Disease Conference in Prato, Italy.

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