Salt Sensitivity and Hypertension in African Americans: Implications for Cardiovascular Disease

Rosalind M. Peters, MSN, RN, John M. Flack, MD, MPH


Prog Cardiovasc Nurs. 2000;15(4) 

In This Article


Salt sensitivity has significant clinical implications for the prevention and management of hypertension among African Americans as well as most other hypertensive patients, irrespective of race. Nursing awareness of the impact of salt on blood pressure, especially systolic pressure, is crucial in reducing the prevalence of hypertension and its complications. Dietary sodium reduction strategies have been shown to aid in the primary prevention of hypertension as well as to decrease blood pressure among hypertensive patients.[37] Dietary and weight reduction strategies are interventions that fall within the independent domain of nursing practice. These counseling interventions should be a priority of all cardiovascular nurses, incorporated in all care plans, and not assumed to be discussed by dieticians. To be effective educators and counselors, nurses must increase their knowledge regarding sodium and other dietary factors in hypertension, and use empirically supported strategies for promoting dietary and weight changes. Results of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) study[39] provide evidence that dietary interventions can make significant contributions to blood pressure control.[39,40] Therefore, cardiovascular nurses, with an increased understanding of salt sensitivity and its relationship to diet, obesity, and blood pressure are in an important position to improve the clinical care of hypertension among African Americans and other hypertension-prone populations.


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