High blood pressure in the elderly can be safely reduced without drugs just by taking a mineral salt containing magnesium and potassium, researchers in the Netherlands have discovered.

They also found that a reduction of sodium in the diet, usually found in common salt, helped to lower hypertension.

Their findings provide a suitable dietary compromise for those unwilling to give up salt in their diet. Their study group of 100 men and women were happy to replace common salt with the low-sodium alternative.

This simple change in diet achieved a significant reduction in blood pressure (8 mm Hg systolic and 3 mm Hg diastolic), far larger than researchers expected. They believe it could be because older people benefit from a reduction in sodium intake far more than do younger people.

The randomized double-blind placebo study took place over 24 weeks. The two types of salt were used in cooking and at the table, while the trial foods included bread, cheese, luncheon meats, canned and instant soups, and smoked sausage.

The research team from Erasmus University Medical School in Rotterdam concluded that a switch to a low-sodium salt was a safe alternative for older people suffering from mild to moderate hypertension.

!ABMJ, 13 August 1994.

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