The University’s Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism is beginning a new phase of a seven-year study researching how salt consumption impacts blood pressure.
This specific section of research focuses on how their previous findings apply to African Americans.
Though the exact causes of high blood pressure are unknown, high-sodium diets are thought to be a contributing factor, prompting the University researchers to examine the mineral’s short-term effects on volunteers’ blood pressure.
After each participant is given a week-long high-sodium diet, researchers compare that person’s blood pressure and other health indicators with his or her test results following a week-long low-sodium diet to see how the different amounts impact that individual’s blood pressure.
“For some it makes their blood pressure go up, for others it decreases,” said Cindy Schoeffel, a clinical research scientist involved in the project.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a disease which is thought to be caused by genetic and/or situational factors and can be treated in many ways. It is also common to many Americans.
“We see the effects of hypertension firsthand,” said Sandy Schwaner, a nurse practitioner in the department of Interventional Radiology. “We’re the end of the road, what happens when hypertension goes untreated.”
And it often does go untreated, Schwaner said.
High blood pressure most often leads to vessel remolding, where blood vessels becomes curved instead of straight and causes small tears in the walls of the vessel, Schwaner said.
To avoid high blood pressure Schwaner recommended the consistent use of prescribed medication, regular exercise, a healthy diet and early treatment.
“Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you can’t have hypertension,” Schwaner said. “[This disease] is silent until late stage.”