Author ORCID Identifier


Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Rehabilitation and Movement Science

First Advisor

Ryan Garten, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Danielle Kirkman, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Paula Rodriguez-Miguelez, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Salvatore Carbone, Ph.D.

Fifth Advisor

Austin Robinson Ph.D.


Excessive dietary sodium consumption increases the risk for high blood pressure (BP), and therefore recommended for dietary sodium intake to be ≤ 2,300 mg/day. Recommendations are based on salt-sensitive individuals who report elevated BP with high sodium (HS) intake, but many individuals are salt-resistant (SR) who experience little to no change in BP with HS intake. Currently, less is known about the adverse cardiovascular effects of HS intake independent of BP. A potential source of impaired blood vessel function (micro- and macro-) from HS intake is oxidative stress, or the imbalance between antioxidant defense and oxidants, in favor of oxidants. An area of interest to be elucidated is how HS intake impacts blood flow regulation (BFR) in response to exercise. BFR is tightly regulated by numerous local and central mechanisms, including functional sympatholysis which optimizes BFR to the working muscles by releasing local sympatholytic molecules to blunt the sympathetic outflow of vasoconstriction during exercise. A short-term (7-day) HS intake (6,900 mg/day compared to a short-term low sodium intake (≤ 2,300 mg/day) in SR individuals was examined to see if HS intake can impair peripheral vascular function, BFR and functional sympatholysis. Manuscript 1 examined HS intake effects on blood vessel function using the reactive hyperemia flow mediated dilation of the upper limb and exercise-induced flow mediated dilation during progressive upper and lower limb exercise. Furthermore, the role oxidative stress was examined using antioxidant supplementation. Manuscript 2 examined HS intake effects on functional sympatholysis during upper and lower limb exercise.


© Kevin Patrick Decker

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Date of Submission


Available for download on Tuesday, August 11, 2026