Cardiovascular pressure, also known as blood pressure, may be influenced by dietary salt, putting people at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and death. A new study from Vanderbilt University has discovered that activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome (a protein complex involved in the inflammatory response) in immune cells can contribute to salt-sensitive hypertension.
The study used inpatient salt loading and depletion protocols to characterize participants as salt-sensitive or not. Researchers then examined study responses in participants’ blood cells.
The NLRP3 inflammasome in a specific subtype of immune cells was found to change in salt-sensitive people. This change increased drastically with salt intake and blood pressure.
This new information shows that after consuming a salty meal, about 50% of people with hypertension will experience an exaggerated increase in blood pressure. In people with normal blood pressure, 25% of them will also have a rise in blood pressure. In elderly and African American people, the amount of people affected is even higher – up to 75%.
“The increase in blood pressure in response to salt can be significant enough to cause a heart attack, stroke, and even sudden cardiac death, yet it’s undiagnosed and goes untreated. It’s a silent killer,” said Annet Kirabo, DVM, MSc, Ph.D., senior author of the study.
Researchers hope this study will lead to the development of a blood test for salt sensitivity to blood pressure. If people know the true risks of table salt, they may be more inclined to reduce their consumption.
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is persistently high. High blood pressure can be harmful because it strains the heart and cardiovascular system and can also damage the organs in the body, leading to several health problems.
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