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Salt's added injury to arteries.

Salt's added injury to arteries

Salty diets may damage arteries even without causing large increases in blood pressure, animal studies indicate. Louis Tobian and Susan Hanlon of the University of Minnesota Hospital in Minneapolis initially fed a high-salt diet to rats resistant to salt-induced high blood pressure. They also administered a steroid hormone that causes the kidneys to retain salt. The researchers later divided the rats into two groups: About half were put on a low-salt regimen, and the rest resumed the high-salt diet. The average blood pressure of both groups remained only slightly elevated throughout the study, Tobian says. But by 15 weeks, all 49 rats in the high-salt group were dead, while the 51 on the low-salt diet continued to thrive.

The researchers examined the brains of the dying rats and found small areas of dead tissue. Tobian thinks the damage resulted from salt-induced arterial wounding and narrowing, which cut off blood supply to surrounding brain cells. "Salt's infamy goes beyond its effect on blood pressure," Tobian says. He suggests this injury may explain the high stroke incidence among people in northern Japan (SN: 4/22/89, p.250), who eat high-salt diets comparable to those of the test rats.
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Author:Cowen, Ron
Publication:Science News
Date:Apr 14, 1990
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