The Influence of Dietary Salt Beyond Blood Pressure

Curr Hypertens Rep. 2019 Apr 25;21(6):42. doi: 10.1007/s11906-019-0948-5.


Purpose of review: Excess sodium from dietary salt (NaCl) is linked to elevations in blood pressure (BP). However, salt sensitivity of BP varies widely between individuals and there are data suggesting that salt adversely affects target organs, irrespective of BP.

Recent findings: High dietary salt has been shown to adversely affect the vasculature, heart, kidneys, skin, brain, and bone. Common mediators of the target organ dysfunction include heightened inflammation and oxidative stress. These physiological alterations may contribute to disease development over time. Despite the adverse effects of salt on BP and several organ systems, there is controversy surrounding lower salt intakes and cardiovascular outcomes. Our goal here is to review the physiology contributing to BP-independent effects of salt and address the controversy around lower salt intakes and cardiovascular outcomes. We will also address the importance of background diet in modulating the effects of dietary salt.

Keywords: Blood pressure; Cardiovascular health; Dietary salt; Dietary sodium; Organ damage; Vascular physiology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Cardiovascular System / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / etiology
  • Organs at Risk
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary / adverse effects*
  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary / pharmacology


  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary