Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sodium Reductions Might Not Affect Heart Health

According to an article written in Time magazine, they've been doing research in Europe that proves that lower sodium intake might not actually help heart health in the long run. Studies have shown that people who have high blood pressure or heart disease would benefit from lowering salt intake. However, in a study of more than 3,500 people who didn't have heart problems, the ones who had the highest salt intake were the lowest risk for heart disease-related death. The study was done for more than eight years and those with the highest sodium levels only had a 0.8% death rate. Those with low sodium had a 4% death rate.

All the unique things that the health science world is doing today never cease to amaze me. It's like the blog that I wrote awhile back on senior safety and wellness, which talked about how education is so very important to your health. COPD symptoms can be reduced with exercise, Alzheimer's can be staved off with walking, and now apparently sodium isn't going to be terribly bad for your heart. But why is this?

According to researchers, while salt intake does affect blood pressure, it doesn't increase the risk of hypertension or a death related to heart disease. It apparently doesn't have as much of an effect as they thought, and is much less of an issue. The American Heart Association is still hard at work trying to convince people to lower their sodium intake just for the sake of their health, but there's apparently less of a connection to heart health than was previously thought.

The study does have its flaws, of course. The volunteers were all younger, so the follow-up might not have been effective enough due to the age at which these heart issues usually occur. Either way, it is a complicated issue that people have to face and learn about for themselves. Nothing is more important than being educated and you really need to read up. Medical science never ceases to impress me with its findings, but this just goes to show that you have to get the details before you tip the salt shaker.

Mary Albert is a health advocate at Lifestyle Health Guide, where she contributes regularly on health issues and medical alert systems.


John said...

Good call Mary. The salt issue was always been somewhat problematic. If anything the evidence leaned towards only a subset of people being susceptible to high blood pressure from excess salt intake. In light of modern findings I suggest it is not just high salt intake but also low potassium and perhaps magnesium intake.

A recent study found that maintaining adequate potassium levels may be more important than reducing salt intake. We need a lot of potassium, good sources are potatoes(baked, if boiled the potassium is lost in the water) and bananas. So if anyone has high blood pressure I would be immediately looking at boosting potassium intake(but care needed if on some diuretics).

Some years ago a friend of mine commented how the doctors couldn't figure what was wrong with his father, a very health conscious man. Eventually they found the problem - low sodium. The solution - he must start using salt again! Oh and yes, always use iodised salt because iodine deficiency is not uncommon.

Caty Karther said...

Salt intake is related to the blood pressure. I think but it does not have any bad effect for the heart disease. Therefore it apparently doesn't have as much of an effect as they thought, and is much less of an issue.

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