This study investigated the effect of the sodium to potassium ratio on hypertension prevalence and blood pressure. The study population was constructed by pooling the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys between 2010 and 2014. The study population was divided into quartiles based on the sodium to potassium ratio, and the effect was inferred by the difference in hypertension prevalence across quartiles by six pairwise comparisons using a propensity score matching technique. The quartiles with the higher sodium to potassium ratio had higher hypertension prevalence rates based on the following pairwise comparisons: the first vs. third quartile, the first vs. fourth quartile, the second vs. third quartile, and the second vs. fourth quartile. The prevalence differences were 2.74% point (p < 0.05), 3.44% point (p < 0.01), 2.47% point (p < 0.05), and 2.95% point (p < 0.01), respectively. In addition, statistically significant higher systolic (p < 0.05) and diastolic blood pressure (p < 0.01) was observed in the second quartiles compared to the first quartiles. Because a strong association was also detected between the sodium to potassium ratio and blood pressure even at a low level of sodium to potassium ratio, a lower sodium to potassium ratio diet than a usual diet is recommended to control high blood pressure in Korea.
Keywords: average treatment effect on the treated subjects; blood pressure; hypertension prevalence; logistic regression; propensity score matching; selection bias; sodium to potassium ratio.