Baroreflex impairment by low sodium diet in mild or moderate essential hypertension

Guido Grassi, Bianca Maria Cattaneo, Gino Seravalle, Antonio Lanfranchi, Giambattista Bolla, Giuseppe Mancia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Low sodium intake is the most widely used nonpharmacological approach to the treatment of hypertension. Although nonpharmacological treatment is by definition regarded as safe, the suggestion has been made that low sodium intake is not totally devoid of inconveniences, and animal data have shown it to be accompanied by an impairment of reflex blood pressure control and homeostasis. However, no data exist on this issue in humans. In mild essential hypertensive patients (age, 34.1±3.3 years [mean±SEM]), we measured beat-to-beat arterial blood pressure (finger photoplethysmographic device), heart rate (electrocardiogram), and efferent postganglionic muscle sympathetic nerve activity (microneurography) at rest and during baroreceptor stimulation and deactivation, induced by stepwise intravenous infusions of phenylephrine and nitroprusside, respectively. Measurements were performed at the end of three dietary periods, ie, after 8 days of regular sodium intake (210 mmol NaCl/d), low sodium intake (20 mmol NaCl/d) with unchanged potassium intake, and again regular sodium intake. Compared with the initial regular sodium diet, low sodium intake reduced urinary sodium excretion, whereas urinary potassium excretion was unchanged. Systolic blood pressure was significantly (P

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)802-807
Number of pages6
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1997


  • autonomic nervous system
  • baroreceptors
  • diet, low sodium
  • reflex
  • sympathetic nervous system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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