Blood pressure responses to dietary sodium: Association with autonomic cardiovascular function in normotensive adults

Evan L. Matthews, Michael S. Brian, David G. Edwards, Sean D. Stocker, Megan M. Wenner, William B. Farquhar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Blood pressure responses to dietary sodium vary widely person-to-person. Salt sensitive rodent models display altered autonomic function, a trait thought to contribute to poor cardiovascular health. Thus, we hypothesized that increased salt sensitivity (SS) in normotensive humans would be associated with increased muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA), decreased high frequency heart rate variability (HF-HRV), and decreased baroreflex sensitivity. Healthy normotensive men and women completed 1 week of high (300 mmol·day− 1) and 1 week of low (20 mmol·day− 1) dietary sodium (random order) with 24 h mean arterial pressure (MAP) assessed on the last day of each diet to assess SS. Participants returned to the lab under habitual sodium conditions for testing. Forty-two participants are presented in this analysis, 19 of which successful MSNA recordings were obtained (n = 42: age 39 ± 2 yrs., BMI 24.3 ± 0.5 kg·(m2)− 1, MAP 83 ± 1 mm Hg, habitual urine sodium 93 ± 7 mmol·24 h− 1; n = 19: MSNA burst frequency 20 ± 2 bursts·min− 1). The variables of interest were linearly regressed over the magnitude of SS. Higher SS was associated with increased MSNA (burst frequency: r = 0.469, p = 0.041), decreased HF-HRV (r = − 0.349, p = 0.046), and increased LF/HF-HRV (r = 0.363, p = 0.034). SS was not associated with sympathetic or cardiac baroreflex sensitivity (p > 0.05). Multiple regression analysis accounting for age found that age, not SS, independently predicted HF-HRV (age adjusted no longer significant; p = 0.369) and LF/HF-HRV (age adjusted p = 0.273). These data suggest that age-related salt sensitivity of blood pressure in response to dietary sodium is associated with altered resting autonomic cardiovascular function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-56
Number of pages6
JournalAutonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical
StatePublished - Dec 2017


  • Age
  • MSNA
  • Salt
  • Sensitive
  • Sodium
  • Sympathetic


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