INTERMAP: background, aims, design, methods, and descriptive statistics (nondietary)

J Hum Hypertens. 2003 Sep;17(9):591-608. doi: 10.1038/sj.jhh.1001603.


Blood pressure (BP) above optimal (< or =120/< or =80 mmHg) is established as a major cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factor. Prevalence of adverse BP is high in most adult populations; until recently research has been sparse on reasons for this. Since the 1980s, epidemiologic studies confirmed that salt, alcohol intake, and body mass relate directly to BP; dietary potassium, inversely. Several other nutrients also probably influence BP. The DASH feeding trials demonstrated that with the multiple modifications in the DASH combination diet, SBP/DBP (SBP: systolic blood pressure, DBP: diastolic blood pressure) was sizably reduced, independent of calorie balance, alcohol intake, and BP reduction with decreased dietary salt. A key challenge for research is to elucidate specific nutrients accounting for this effect. The general aim of the study was to clarify influences of multiple nutrients on SBP/DBP of individuals over and above effects of Na, K, alcohol, and body mass. Specific aims were, in a cross-sectional epidemiologic study of 4680 men and women aged 40-59 years from 17 diverse population samples in China, Japan, UK, and USA, test 10 prior hypotheses on relations of macronutrients to SBP/DBP and on role of dietary factors in inverse associations of education with BP; test four related subgroup hypotheses; explore associations with SBP/DBP of multiple other nutrients, urinary metabolites, and foods. For these purposes, for all 4680 participants, with standardized high-quality methods, assess individual intake of 76 nutrients from four 24-h dietary recalls/person; measure in two timed 24-h urine collections/person 24-h excretion of Na, K, Ca, Mg, creatinine, amino acids; microalbuminuria; multiple nutrients and metabolites by nuclear magnetic resonance and high-pressure liquid chromatography. Based on eight SBP/DBP measurements/person, and data on multiple possible confounders, utilize mainly multiple linear regression and quantile analyses to test prior hypotheses and explore relations of multiple dietary and urinary variables to SBP/DBP of individuals. The 4680 INTERMAP participants are equally divided across four age/gender strata: diverse in ethnicity, education, occupation, physical activity; use of cigarettes, alcohol; diagnosed high BP, CVD, diabetes; CVD family history; women vary in parity, use of contraceptive medication and hormone replacement therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Coronary Disease / blood
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology
  • Coronary Disease / physiopathology
  • Diastole / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / blood
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Micronutrients*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Systole / physiology


  • Micronutrients
  • Cholesterol