The close relationship between hypertension and dietary sodium intake is widely recognized and supported by several studies. A reduction in dietary sodium not only decreases the blood pressure and the incidence of hypertension, but is also associated with a reduction in morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular diseases. Prolonged modest reduction in salt intake induces a relevant fall in blood pressure in both hypertensive and normotensive individuals, irrespective of sex and ethnic group, with larger falls in systolic blood pressure for larger reductions in dietary salt. The high sodium intake and the increase in blood pressure levels are related to water retention, increase in systemic peripheral resistance, alterations in the endothelial function, changes in the structure and function of large elastic arteries, modification in sympathetic activity, and in the autonomic neuronal modulation of the cardiovascular system. In this review, we have focused on the effects of sodium intake on vascular hemodynamics and their implication in the pathogenesis of hypertension.
Keywords: arterial stiffness; endothelial function; hypertension; salt intake; salt-sensitivity; sodium intake; sympathetic activity.