Background. High blood pressure is an important public health problem globally.
Objectives. To describe the prevalence of high blood pressure and its risk factors and the relationship between high blood
pressure and excessive salt (sodium chloride, NaCl) consumption with other cardiovascular risk factors in the Estonian context.
Methods. In the cross-sectional study, the data of the Pilot Project of the Estonian Salt Consumption Study (127 subjects with an average age of 34.7 (SD=7.1) years), the Estonian Salt Consumption Study (ESCS, 598 subjects with an average age of 45.0 (SD=11.3) years), and the Estonian Children Personality Behavior and Health Study (subjects in the 4th study wave of younger cohort in an average age 24,8, older cohort in an average age 33,5 years, and their parents, totally 2379 subjects with an average age of 43.7 (SD=12.7) years) was used.
Results. In total, high blood pressure was found in 16.2% of participants in the three studies.
The prevalence of high blood pressure was almost 2 times higher in men compared to women, reaching up to 31.6% among
men of the ESCS. According to the results of 24 h urine the average consumption of salt in men was 12.2 ± 5.7 and women 8.1 ± 3.4 g/day (ESCS). Two salt consumption studies revealed higher NaCl consumption based on 24 h urine in comparison with the food recall data, which was estimated to be more than 3 g higher. Based on the 24 h urine samples, the salt consumption of 93% of men and 71% of women exceeded the upper limit of Estonian dietary recommendations (6 g of salt/day). The pathway analysis model predicted higher systolic blood pressure along with salt intake, gender, age, daily dietary energy, and waist and hip circumference ratio.
Conclusions. The results suggest that high blood pressure and excessive salt consumption are very common in Estonia. Future actions are needed to prevent the prevalence of high blood pressure in an entire population, including interventions to lower dietary salt consumption.