Low-salt diet may threaten heart health

By Tom Nordlie • Published: October 17th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

We’ve all been told to shake the salt habit. Experts say reducing sodium intake can lower blood pressure, cutting the risk of cardiovascular disease.

But a new study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine suggests that consuming very little salt may not be heart-healthy.

In the study, researchers relied on data from a nationwide health and nutrition survey.

They focused on eighty-seven-hundred adults with no history of cardiovascular disease.

The participants described all the foods they ate in a twenty-four-hour period, and provided demographic and health information.

From this, the researchers calculated each participant’s sodium intake and classified everyone in four groups, depending on the amount of sodium they consumed.

The group consuming the least sodium had two grams per day or less. The group consuming the most had between four and ten grams per day.

Then, the researchers followed the participants an average of almost nine years. During that time, almost four-hundred-forty participants died of cardiovascular disease.

Statistical analysis showed that the group consuming the least amount of sodium was almost twice as likely to die as the group consuming the most. And that’s after researchers adjusted for factors such as age, gender, ethnicity and weight.

The results suggest that sodium intake, by itself, may not be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Then again, previous studies have shown just the opposite. So we’re going to say, let your doctor play the tie-breaker here. Seek her advice. And don’t take it with a grain of salt.