The association between blood pressure, age, and dietary sodium and potassium: a population study

Circulation. 1988 Jan;77(1):53-61. doi: 10.1161/01.cir.77.1.53.


We examined the relationship between blood pressure and dietary sodium and potassium intake estimated from 24 hr diet recall in a population of 584 men and 718 women 30 to 79 years old in Southern California. In men, but not women, age-adjusted systolic and diastolic blood pressure correlated significantly with dietary sodium intake. In both men and women, age-adjusted diastolic blood pressure significantly inversely correlated with dietary potassium intake. Age-adjusted systolic and diastolic blood pressure correlated significantly with the dietary sodium/potassium ratio in each sex; correlations were better for the ratio than for either sodium or potassium alone. The relationship was apparent over the whole range of blood pressure and dietary intake. A marked age gradient was apparent in men, the regression slope for blood pressure vs sodium/potassium ratio increasing with increasing age, suggesting increasing sensitivity to dietary sodium/potassium ratio with age. Adjusting for intake of other dietary variables, including calories, protein, carbohydrate, saturated fat, alcohol, calcium, and fiber, did not alter the relationships; adjusting for body mass index reduced the strength of the association in women but not in men. These results support the hypothesis that dietary sodium and potassium are related to blood pressure within a population.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects*
  • California
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Potassium / administration & dosage
  • Potassium / pharmacology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Sodium, Dietary / pharmacology*


  • Sodium, Dietary
  • Potassium