Stress-induced sodium retention and hypertension: A review and hypothesis

Gregory A. Harshfield, Yanbin Dong, Gaston K. Kapuku, Haidong Zhu, Coral D. Hanevold

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Hypertension - an important health problem in industrialized nations - is particularly significant in blacks and obese individuals, in whom it is hypothesized to result from impaired renal sodium regulation. We reviewed studies that identified individuals with impaired sodium regulation by examining the natriuretic response to mental stress. A significant percentage of black and obese individuals retain or have a diminished natriuretic response to mental stress despite increased blood pressure (BP). This contributes a volume component to the normal resistance-mediated BP increase, and BP remains elevated after the stressor ceases until the volume expansion diminishes. The stress exposes these individuals to greater cardiovascular load. This response pattern has been linked to renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system activity, and is associated with premature target-organ damage. Assessing stressinduced sodium retention provides a method to identify patients with impaired sodium regulation without using a dietary protocol that poses adherence difficulties, or complicated laboratory assessments. Furthermore, research using this technique indicates the effectiveness of renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system blockers in correcting impaired sodium regulation and consequent hypertension in these individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-34
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Hypertension Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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