Intensity of Salt Taste and Prevalence of Hypertension Are Not Related in the Beaver Dam Offspring Study

Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI.
Chemosensory Perception (Impact Factor: 1.3). 06/2012; 5(2):139-145. DOI: 10.1007/s12078-012-9118-8
Source: PubMed


BACKGROUND: Standard clinical advice for the prevention and treatment of hypertension includes limitation of salt intake. Previous studies of the association between perception of salt taste and hypertension prevalence have not reported consistent results and have usually been conducted in small study populations. PURPOSE: To determine the cross-sectional relationship between intensity of salt taste, discretionary salt use, and hypertension. METHODS: Subjects (n=2371, mean age=48.8 years) were participants in the Beaver Dam Offspring Study (BOSS), an investigation of sensory loss and aging conducted in 2005-2008. Salt taste intensity was measured using a filter paper disk impregnated with 1.0 M sodium chloride and a general Labeled Magnitude Scale (gLMS). Hypertension was defined as systolic blood pressure ≥ 140 mmHg or diastolic blood pressure ≥ 90 mmHg, or use of high blood pressure medication. RESULTS: Nearly 32% of the participants rated the salt disk as weak or having no taste while approximately 10% considered it to be very strong or stronger. The intensity was reported to be less strong by males (P < 0.001) and college graduates (P = 0.02) and was inversely associated with frequency of adding salt to foods (P = 0.02). There was no significant association between hypertension and the intensity of salt taste, before and after adjustment for covariates. Exclusion of subjects with a history of physician diagnosed hypertension did not appreciably alter these findings. CONCLUSIONS: The perception of salt taste was related to the frequency of discretionary salt use but not to hypertension status or mean blood pressure.

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