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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Lower Sodium Intake and Risk of Headaches: Results From the Trial of Nonpharmacologic Interventions in the Elderly.

  • Author(s): Chen, Liwei
  • Zhang, Zhenzhen
  • Chen, Wen
  • Whelton, Paul K
  • Appel, Lawrence J
  • et al.

To determine the effect of sodium (Na) reduction on occurrence of headaches.In the Trial of Nonpharmacologic Interventions in the Elderly, 975 men and woman (aged 60-80 years) with hypertension were randomized to a Na-reduction intervention or control group and were followed for up to 36 months. The study was conducted between 1992 and 1995 at 4 clinical centers (Johns Hopkins University, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and the University of Tennessee).Mean difference in Na excretion between the Na-reduction intervention and control group was significant at each follow-up visit (P < .001) with an average difference of 38.8 millimoles per 24 hours. The occurrence of headaches was significantly lower in the Na-reduction intervention group (10.5%) compared with control (14.3%) with a hazard ratio of 0.59 (95% confidence interval = 0.40, 0.88; P = .009). The risk of headaches was significantly associated with average level of Na excretion during follow-up, independent of most recent blood pressure. The relationship appeared to be nonlinear with a spline relationship and a knot at 150 millimoles per 24 hours.Reduced sodium intake, currently recommended for blood pressure control, may also reduce the occurrence of headaches in older persons with hypertension.

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