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Very Low Salt Diet May Actually be Bad for Your Heart

Popular belief has been that all people with cardiovascular issues need to reduce their sodium intake. However, a recent study suggests that very low-salt diets (less than three grams per day) in people who are not hypertensive may actually increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and death when compared with average salt consumption.


Participants in the study included more than 130,000 people from 49 countries, about half with hypertension and half without. The researchers examined 24-hour urinary sodium excretion to determine salt consumption levels. They then related that to the composite outcome of death and major cardiovascular disease events over a median of 4.2 years.


The researchers found that only people who had been previously diagnosed with hypertension and who also had high salt consumption needed to reduce their sodium intake. They also found that regardless of blood pressure levels, people who consumed too little sodium had a higher risk of heart attack, stroke, and death compared with those who had an average intake.


The researchers concluded that only people with hypertension and high sodium intake should reduce their salt intake.  They stressed, however, that sodium intake should not be reduced to too much, as very low salt intake is also associated with other adverse effects, including elevation of certain hormones.


Researchers from the Population Health Research Institute of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences, both in Canada, conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on May 20, 2016, in The Lancet.

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