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EDITOR IN CHIEF

Dr RusheeKanta Mohanta (MD.DM.)

Common Salt and Hypertension in Indian Scenario

MAY6-5(1)
Date : 5/06/2019
Author : Dr Rushee Kanta Mohanta (MD Medicine, DM Cardiology)
Publisher : Heartmate
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Volume No : 5 Issue No : 1
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In India, salt consumption was reported to be higher than the recommended values in different states and predicted to be reported high all over the nation because of diversity in food culture. Despite the wealth of evidence all over the world regarding unfavorable effects of excessive salt consumption on blood pressure and cardiovascular health, public health efforts to decrease sodium consumption have been limited in the nation. Individuals are often unaware about the amount of sodium they are consuming and of course the detrimental effect of salt on health.

Diet for heart

India too hasn " t set itself a target. Sustained and concerted efforts should be made to raise public awareness regarding the harmful effects of excessive salt intake. Modest reduction in dietary salt could substantially reduce cardiovascular events and medical costs and should be a public health target in present scenario of the nation Salt works on your kidneys to make your body hold on to more water. This extra stored water raises your blood pressure and puts strain on your kidneys, arteries, heart and brain.

Effect on Kidneys

Our body removes unwanted fluid by filtering your blood through your kidneys. Here any extra fluid is sucked out and put into your bladder to be removed as urine.

Our kidneys use osmosis to draw the extra water out of your blood. This process uses a delicate balance of sodium and potassium to pull the water across a wall of cells from the bloodstream into a collecting channel that leads to the bladder.

Eating salt raises the amount of sodium in your bloodstream and wrecks the delicate balance, reducing the ability of your kidneys to remove the water.

The result is a higher blood pressure due to the extra fluid and extra strain on the delicate blood vessels leading to the kidneys.

Over time, this extra strain can damage the kidneys - known as kidney disease. This reduces their ability to filter out unwanted and toxic waste products, which then start to build up in the body.

If kidney disease is left untreated and the blood pressure isn't lowered, the damage can lead to kidney failure. This is when the kidneys are no longer able to be filter the blood and the body slowly becomes poisoned by its own toxic waste products.

If you have high blood pressure and are being treated with a diuretic medication, this makes the kidneys remove more fluid from the bloodstream. Because the sodium in salt counteracts this effect, reducing your salt intake will make your blood pressure medicine more effective.

Effect on Arteries

The extra blood pressure caused by eating too much salt puts extra strain on the insides of our arteries.

To cope with the extra strain, the smooth muscles in the artery walls become stronger and thicker. Yet this only makes the space inside the arteries smaller and raises your blood pressure even higher.

This cycle of increasing blood pressure can ultimately lead to the arteries bursting or becoming so narrow that they then clog up entirely.

When this happens, the organs of the body that were receiving the blood from the arteries become starved of the oxygen and nutrients they need. This can result in the organs being damaged and can be fatal.

Effect on Heart

The raised blood pressure caused by eating too much salt may damage the arteries leading to the heart.

At first, it may cause a slight reduction in the amount of blood reaching the heart. This may lead to angina.

With this condition the cells in the heart don't work as well as they should because they are not receiving enough oxygen and nutrients. However, lowering blood pressure may help to alleviate some of the problems and reduce the risk of greater damage.

If we continue to eat too much salt then, over time, the damage caused by the extra blood pressure may become so severe that the arteries burst or become completely clogged.

If this happens, then the part of the heart that was receiving the blood no longer gets the oxygen and nutrients it needs and dies. The result is a heart attack.

The best way to prevent a heart attack is to stop the arteries becoming damaged. And one of the best ways of doing this is keep your blood pressure down by eating less salt.

Effect on Brain

The raised blood pressure caused by eating too much salt may damage the arteries leading to the brain.

At first, it may cause a slight reduction in the amount of blood reaching the brain. This may lead to dementia.

With this condition the cells in the brain don't work as well as they should because they are not receiving enough oxygen and nutrients. However, lowering blood pressure may help to alleviate some of the problems and reduce the risk of greater damage.

If you continue to eat too much salt then, over time, the damage caused by the extra blood pressure may become so severe that the arteries burst or become completely clogged.

If this happens, then the part of the brain that was receiving the blood no longer gets the oxygen and nutrients it needs and dies. The result is a stroke, where you lose the ability to do the things that part of the brain used to control.

The best way to prevent a stroke is to stop the arteries becoming damaged. And one of the best ways of doing this is keep our blood pressure down by eating less salt.

Avoiding salt at the table

The dinner table is another danger area for filling up with the white stuff. Apart from the salt shaker on the table, many of its fellow table dwellers contain high levels of salt too.

For example, gravy made from granules or browning is often high in salt, as are tomato ketchup, soy sauce and some mustards.

To best avoid salt, it is worth throwing away the salt shaker and removing its salt-laden friends from the table.

However, if this seems too extreme, why not:

  • · buy low-salt or low-sodium versions of your favourite sauces or gravy
  • · use a low-sodium salt alternative
  • · try using other flavourings such as lemon juice, vinegar, spices or pepper?

Common myths about  salt

Many forms of table salt now market themselves as being "natural" or from a healthy-sounding source. Because of this, many people believe that these forms of salt must be better for them and don't count.

Unfortunately salt is salt. So long as it contains sodium, then it will raise your blood pressure and could damage your body.

Sea salt, rock salt, garlic salt, natural salt are all salt and contain sodium. Avoid them if you can to lower your blood pressure.

The only form of "table salt" that does not contain sodium is the low-sodium alternatives. These contain potassium instead of sodium and may help to lower blood pressure. However, certain people need to be careful when using this form of salt.

 Dr RusheeKanta Mohanta (Consultant Cardiologist)

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