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# Drinking Water Salinity and Raised Blood Pressure: Evidence from a Cohort Study in Coastal Bangladesh

Environmental Health Perspectives

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### Abstract

##### Background:

Millions of coastal inhabitants in Southeast Asia have been experiencing increasing sodium concentrations in their drinking-water sources, likely partially due to climate change. High (dietary) sodium intake has convincingly been proven to increase risk of hypertension; it remains unknown, however, whether consumption of sodium in drinking water could have similar effects on health.

##### Objectives:

We present the results of a cohort study in which we assessed the effects of drinking-water sodium (DWS) on blood pressure (BP) in coastal populations in Bangladesh.

##### Methods:

DWS, BP, and information on personal, lifestyle, and environmental factors were collected from 581 participants. We used generalized linear latent and mixed methods to model the effects of DWS on BP and assessed the associations between changes in DWS and BP when participants experienced changing sodium levels in water, switched from “conventional” ponds or tube wells to alternatives [managed aquifer recharge (MAR) and rainwater harvesting] that aimed to reduce sodium levels, or experienced a combination of these changes.

##### Results:

DWS concentrations were highly associated with BP after adjustments for confounding factors. Furthermore, for each $100 mg/L$ reduction in sodium in drinking water, systolic/diastolic BP was lower on average by $0.95 / 0.57 mmHg$ , and odds of hypertension were lower by 14%. However, MAR did not consistently lower sodium levels.

##### Conclusions:

DWS is an important source of daily sodium intake in salinity-affected areas and is a risk factor for hypertension. Considering the likely increasing trend in coastal salinity, prompt action is required. Because MAR showed variable effects, alternative technologies for providing reliable, safe, low-sodium fresh water should be developed alongside improvements in MAR and evaluated in “real-life” salinity-affected settings. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP659

### Most cited references41

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### 2014 evidence-based guideline for the management of high blood pressure in adults: report from the panel members appointed to the Eighth Joint National Committee (JNC 8).

(2014)
Hypertension is the most common condition seen in primary care and leads to myocardial infarction, stroke, renal failure, and death if not detected early and treated appropriately. Patients want to be assured that blood pressure (BP) treatment will reduce their disease burden, while clinicians want guidance on hypertension management using the best scientific evidence. This report takes a rigorous, evidence-based approach to recommend treatment thresholds, goals, and medications in the management of hypertension in adults. Evidence was drawn from randomized controlled trials, which represent the gold standard for determining efficacy and effectiveness. Evidence quality and recommendations were graded based on their effect on important outcomes. There is strong evidence to support treating hypertensive persons aged 60 years or older to a BP goal of less than 150/90 mm Hg and hypertensive persons 30 through 59 years of age to a diastolic goal of less than 90 mm Hg; however, there is insufficient evidence in hypertensive persons younger than 60 years for a systolic goal, or in those younger than 30 years for a diastolic goal, so the panel recommends a BP of less than 140/90 mm Hg for those groups based on expert opinion. The same thresholds and goals are recommended for hypertensive adults with diabetes or nondiabetic chronic kidney disease (CKD) as for the general hypertensive population younger than 60 years. There is moderate evidence to support initiating drug treatment with an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, angiotensin receptor blocker, calcium channel blocker, or thiazide-type diuretic in the nonblack hypertensive population, including those with diabetes. In the black hypertensive population, including those with diabetes, a calcium channel blocker or thiazide-type diuretic is recommended as initial therapy. There is moderate evidence to support initial or add-on antihypertensive therapy with an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor or angiotensin receptor blocker in persons with CKD to improve kidney outcomes. Although this guideline provides evidence-based recommendations for the management of high BP and should meet the clinical needs of most patients, these recommendations are not a substitute for clinical judgment, and decisions about care must carefully consider and incorporate the clinical characteristics and circumstances of each individual patient.
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### Effects on blood pressure of reduced dietary sodium and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. DASH-Sodium Collaborative Research Group.

(2001)
The effect of dietary composition on blood pressure is a subject of public health importance. We studied the effect of different levels of dietary sodium, in conjunction with the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, which is rich in vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy products, in persons with and in those without hypertension. A total of 412 participants were randomly assigned to eat either a control diet typical of intake in the United States or the DASH diet. Within the assigned diet, participants ate foods with high, intermediate, and low levels of sodium for 30 consecutive days each, in random order. Reducing the sodium intake from the high to the intermediate level reduced the systolic blood pressure by 2.1 mm Hg (P<0.001) during the control diet and by 1.3 mm Hg (P=0.03) during the DASH diet. Reducing the sodium intake from the intermediate to the low level caused additional reductions of 4.6 mm Hg during the control diet (P<0.001) and 1.7 mm Hg during the DASH diet (P<0.01). The effects of sodium were observed in participants with and in those without hypertension, blacks and those of other races, and women and men. The DASH diet was associated with a significantly lower systolic blood pressure at each sodium level; and the difference was greater with high sodium levels than with low ones. As compared with the control diet with a high sodium level, the DASH diet with a low sodium level led to a mean systolic blood pressure that was 7.1 mm Hg lower in participants without hypertension, and 11.5 mm Hg lower in participants with hypertension. The reduction of sodium intake to levels below the current recommendation of 100 mmol per day and the DASH diet both lower blood pressure substantially, with greater effects in combination than singly. Long-term health benefits will depend on the ability of people to make long-lasting dietary changes and the increased availability of lower-sodium foods.
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Is Open Access

### Effect of lower sodium intake on health: systematic review and meta-analyses

(2013)
Objective To assess the effect of decreased sodium intake on blood pressure, related cardiovascular diseases, and potential adverse effects such as changes in blood lipids, catecholamine levels, and renal function. Design Systematic review and meta-analysis. Data sources Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Medline, Embase, WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform, the Latin American and Caribbean health science literature database, and the reference lists of previous reviews. Study selection Randomised controlled trials and prospective cohort studies in non-acutely ill adults and children assessing the relations between sodium intake and blood pressure, renal function, blood lipids, and catecholamine levels, and in non-acutely ill adults all cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and coronary heart disease. Study appraisal and synthesis Potential studies were screened independently and in duplicate and study characteristics and outcomes extracted. When possible we conducted a meta-analysis to estimate the effect of lower sodium intake using the inverse variance method and a random effects model. We present results as mean differences or risk ratios, with 95% confidence intervals. Results We included 14 cohort studies and five randomised controlled trials reporting all cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, stroke, or coronary heart disease; and 37 randomised controlled trials measuring blood pressure, renal function, blood lipids, and catecholamine levels in adults. Nine controlled trials and one cohort study in children reporting on blood pressure were also included. In adults a reduction in sodium intake significantly reduced resting systolic blood pressure by 3.39 mm Hg (95% confidence interval 2.46 to 4.31) and resting diastolic blood pressure by 1.54 mm Hg (0.98 to 2.11). When sodium intake was 0.05). There were insufficient randomised controlled trials to assess the effects of reduced sodium intake on mortality and morbidity. The associations in cohort studies between sodium intake and all cause mortality, incident fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular disease, and coronary heart disease were non-significant (P>0.05). Increased sodium intake was associated with an increased risk of stroke (risk ratio 1.24, 95% confidence interval 1.08 to 1.43), stroke mortality (1.63, 1.27 to 2.10), and coronary heart disease mortality (1.32, 1.13 to 1.53). In children, a reduction in sodium intake significantly reduced systolic blood pressure by 0.84 mm Hg (0.25 to 1.43) and diastolic blood pressure by 0.87 mm Hg (0.14 to 1.60). Conclusions High quality evidence in non-acutely ill adults shows that reduced sodium intake reduces blood pressure and has no adverse effect on blood lipids, catecholamine levels, or renal function, and moderate quality evidence in children shows that a reduction in sodium intake reduces blood pressure. Lower sodium intake is also associated with a reduced risk of stroke and fatal coronary heart disease in adults. The totality of evidence suggests that most people will likely benefit from reducing sodium intake.
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### Author and article information

###### Affiliations
[ 1 ]Department of Population Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK
[ 2 ]MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health, London, UK
[ 3 ]Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Imperial College London, London, UK
[ 4 ]Initiative for Non-communicable Diseases, Health Systems and Population Studies, icddr,b, Dhaka, Bangladesh
[ 5 ]Department of Social and Environmental Health Research London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
[ 6 ]Faculty of Health, York University , Toronto, Ontario, Canada
[ 7 ]School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Portsmouth , Portsmouth, UK
[ 8 ]Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Imperial College London, London, UK
[ 9 ]International Centre for Diarhoeal Disease Research (icddr,b), Dhaka, Bangladesh
[ 10 ]Dacope Upazilla Health Complex, Khulna, Bangladesh
[ 11 ]Grantham Institute for Climate Change, London, UK
###### Author notes
Address correspondence to Dr. Pauline Scheelbeek, Department of Population Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Keppel St., London, WC1E 7HT, UK; Telephone: +442076127914; E-mail: pauline.scheelbeek@ 123456lshtm.ac.uk
###### Journal
Environ Health Perspect
Environ. Health Perspect
EHP
Environmental Health Perspectives
Environmental Health Perspectives
0091-6765
1552-9924
30 May 2017
May 2017
: 125
: 5
28599268 5730519 EHP659 10.1289/EHP659

EHP is an open-access journal published with support from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health. All content is public domain unless otherwise noted.

###### Categories
Research

Public health