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Erin RichardsRSS Feed of this column.

I am a current graduate student at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. I write for Neon Tommy, a digital news website, as a science writer. My undergraduate degree is from the... Read More »


High blood pressure (hypertension) is one of the most prevalent diseases in the United States. The American Heart Association estimates that high blood pressure affects approximately one in three adults in the US. Genetics and a diet of foods high in fat and saturated with salt underlie the resulting 73 million people suffering from hypertension in the US. As a result, they have a greatly increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, atherosclerosis, eye damage and stroke. These complications can result in permanent organ damage and death.

Blood pressure is intricately linked to salt and water balance in the body, which is controlled by the kidneys. More salt equals more water and fluid in the kidneys and therefore in the arteries. This causes an increase in overall blood pressure due to increased fluid mass. Furthermore, certain salt ions are linked in cells. Sodium and potassium are commonly linked ions which travel in and out of cells conducted by specific ion channels. The ion charges inside or outside of the cell create a electrical charge which then control physiological outcomes including neuronal impulses and hormonal and muscle controlling cells.