26 January 2017
High sodium-to-potassium ratios are associated with elevated blood pressure levels and an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. We aimed to determine whether urinary sodium-to-potassium ratios fluctuate diurnally during the day to understand measured values of casual urinary sodium-to-potassium ratios. A total of 13,277 casual urine specimens were collected under free-living conditions from 122 Japanese normotensive and hypertensive individuals. Participants collected all casual urine samples in aliquot tubes, reported urine volumes and the time at each voiding for 10–22 days. Then, specimens were classified into hourly data. Diurnal patterns of urinary sodium-to-potassium ratios and urinary concentrations of sodium and potassium were evaluated. Overall mean values of hourly urinary sodium-to-potassium ratios were highest (4.1–5.0) in the early morning, lower (3.3–3.8) in the daytime and higher (4.0–4.4) toward evening hours. The mean urinary sodium and potassium concentrations were the lowest (90–110 and 24–32 mmol l −1, respectively) during the early morning and higher (110–140 and 35–43 mmol l −1, respectively) after mid-morning. Diurnal variability of potassium concentrations was larger than for sodium concentrations. Diurnal variations in urinary sodium-to-potassium ratios were comparable between normotensive and hypertensive individuals, between hypertensive individuals with and without antihypertensive medications, and among age and gender-specific subgroups. Overall mean hourly urinary sodium-to-potassium ratios fluctuated diurnally under free-living conditions and were higher during the morning and evening and lower during the daytime compared with 24-h urinary sodium-to-potassium ratios. Diurnal variation in urinary sodium-to-potassium ratios should be considered to understand actual daily dietary levels and avoid over- and under-estimation in clinical practice.