There are clear differences between men and women, and differences among races, in the incidence and prevalence of hypertension. Furthermore, there is extensive inter-individual variability among humans in the extent to which sodium ingestion alters blood pressure. Orthostatic intolerance and orthostatic hypotension are more common in women; these are often treated with a high salt diet, which has variable efficacy in increasing blood volume and blood pressure. Conversely, people with certain forms of hypertension are often counseled to decrease their sodium intake. Non-Hispanic Black men and women have higher rates of hypertension compared to non-Hispanic White men and women and other racial/ethnic groups. In aggregate, Black women appear to have better orthostatic tolerance than White women. In the present paper, we summarize and evaluate the current evidence for mechanisms of blood pressure regulation in men and women, as well as differences between Black and White groups, with a focus on cardiovascular responses to salt and differences among these groups. We also provide a brief review of factors that are not traditionally considered to be “biological” – such as socio-economic disparities resulting from historic and contemporary inequity across racial groups. These non-biological factors have direct and substantial influences on cardiovascular mechanisms, as well as implications for the influences of salt and sodium intake on blood pressure and cardiovascular health. We conclude that both biological and socio-economic factors provide critical modulating influences when considering the impacts of sodium on cardiovascular health as functions of race and sex.
Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier B.V.