Lightheadedness after standing contributes to adverse clinical events, including falls. Recommendations for higher sodium intake to treat postural lightheadedness have not been evaluated in a trial setting. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH)-Sodium trial (1998-1999) tested the effects of the DASH diet and sodium reduction on blood pressure (BP). Participants were randomly assigned to DASH or a typical Western diet (control). During either diet, participants ate three sodium levels (50, 100, 150 meq/d at 2100 kcal) in random order for 30-days, separated by 5-day breaks. Participants reported the presence and severity of postural lightheadedness at baseline and after each feeding period. There were 412 participants (mean age 48 years; 57% women; 57% black). Mean baseline SBP/DBP was 135/86 mm Hg; 9.5% reported baseline lightheadedness. Among those consuming the DASH diet, high vs low sodium increased lightheadedness (OR 1.71; 95% CI: 1.01, 2.90; P = 0.047) and severity of lightheadedness (P = 0.02), but did not affect lightheadedness in those consuming the control diet (OR 0.77; 95% CI: 0.46, 1.29; P = 0.32). Among those consuming high vs low sodium in the context of the DASH diet, adults <60 vs ≥60 years old experienced more lightheadedness (P-interaction = 0.04), along with obese vs non-obese adults (P-interaction = 0.01). In the context of the DASH diet, higher sodium intake was associated with more frequent and severe lightheadedness. These findings challenge traditional recommendations to increase sodium intake to prevent lightheadedness.
- DASH diet
- orthostatic lightheadedness
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine