No link between salt intake and heart disease, study showed

As a scientist myself, it is bothersome to see misconceptions going around without a solid scientific base. “Saturated fat” has long been blamed for the increase of the cardiovascular disease—and it turned out that trans-fat, a compound produced in mass through the commercial production in order to stabilize vegetable oil for the sake of modern life convenience, is more to blame; “Fat” in general has also been blamed for the increased incidence of obesity and diabetes – and it turned out that maybe over consumption of the sugar is to blame; to avoid the sugar, people earnestly jumped on artificial sweetener’s train, as I called it “Stevia train” – and scientific evidence is piling up suggesting that the “stevia train” only leads to more systemic inflammation, worsen gut microbiome population, and perhaps more metabolic diseases. Here is another one – salt, together with saturated fat, has been blamed for the increased cardiovascular disease in the past decades – and a number of recent studies suggested that maybe it’s not salt that is the problem after all. Here is one of them.

A study by Emory University finds no link between salt consumption and mortality, development of cardiovascular diseases, or hear failure in healthy older adults. The researchers looked at the association between dietary sodium intake and mortality, cardiovascular diseases and hear failure in a group of 2,642 healthy adults who ranged in age from 71 to 80. The researchers analyzed 10-year follow-up data on the adults, who were participating in this community-based study, where dietary sodium intake was assessed at baseline with a food frequency questionnaire.

The researchers examined sodium intake at three levels: less than 1,500 milligrams of salt a day; 1,500 to 2,300 milligrams a day; and more than 2,300 milligrams a day. At the 10-year mark, 881 of the participants had died. Cardiovascular disease developed in 572 participants, and 398 developed heart failure. Categorized by level of sodium intake, mortality rates were lowest in the middle group at 31 percent, compared with 34 percent in the low-sodium group, and 35 percent in the high-sodium group, but the differences were not significant.

Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends everyone older than age 2 consume less than 2,300 milligrams of salt each day. The guidelines also limit salt intake to 1,500 milligrams daily for adults older than age 51, African-Americans and those with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. These recent studies are challenging the long-accepted thresholds of sodium intake. Several studies seem to show that in otherwise healthy patients, fanatical measures are not necessary to control their salt intake. However, these studies are only about healthy population. Patients with certain medical conditions such as hypertension should always heed their health advisor’s suggestion and modify their salt intake.

Thanks for reading.

Journal Reference: Andreas P. Kalogeropoulos, MD, MPH, PhD; Vasiliki V. Georgiopoulou, MD; Rachel A. Murphy, PhD; et al Dietary Sodium Content, Mortality, and Risk for Cardiovascular Events in Older Adults, The Health, Aging, and Body Composition (Health ABC) Study, JAMA Internal Medicine March 2015.

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