The History of the Salt Wars

Am J Med. 2017 Sep;130(9):1011-1014. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2017.04.040. Epub 2017 May 22.


The "Salt-Blood Pressure Hypothesis" states that an increase in the intake of salt leads to an increased in blood pressure and subsequently increases the risk for cardiovascular events, which has been a point of contention for decades. This article covers the history and some of the key players pertaining to "The Salt Wars" during the first half of the 1900s, both in Europe and in the United States. Early studies finding benefits with salt restriction in those with hypertension were based on uncontrolled case reports. The overall evidence in the first half of the 1900s suggests that a low-salt diet was not a reasonable strategy for treating hypertension.

Keywords: Blood pressure; Cardiovascular; Hypertension; Salt; Sodium.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Pressure / drug effects*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Controlled Clinical Trials as Topic / methods
  • Controlled Clinical Trials as Topic / standards
  • Controlled Clinical Trials as Topic / statistics & numerical data
  • Diet, Sodium-Restricted / standards*
  • Evidence-Based Emergency Medicine / methods
  • Evidence-Based Emergency Medicine / standards*
  • Evidence-Based Emergency Medicine / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications
  • Hypertension / etiology
  • Hypertension / therapy*
  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary / adverse effects*


  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary