High-Salt Diets Doubled Heart Disease Risk in Diabetes Patients

Sodium intake exceeded recommended amounts in most diets

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Eating too much salt has long been linked to high blood pressure and heart disease. But those with diabetes may have to worry about sodium intake more than previously thought.

The American Heart Association (AHA) said sodium may increase blood pressure in some people by causing the body to hold excess fluid, which puts more strain on the heart. The organization reported that most people consume more than twice the daily recommended amount of 1,500 milligrams.

Japanese scientists recently reported that Type 2 diabetes patients who consumed a salt-heavy diet had a much higher likelihood of developing heart disease than those who ate less salt.

"Keep your salt intake within the recommended limits."

The study was conducted by Chika Horikawa, RD, in the Department of Health and Nutrition at the University of Niigata Prefecture in Japan, and colleagues.

The researchers analyzed data on 1,588 individuals with Type 2 diabetes. Patients ranged in age from 40 to 70. They had provided information on their salt intake as part of the Japan Diabetes Complications Study.

Scientists looked for reported heart complications over a span of eight years.

They observed that participants who ate an average of 5.9 grams of sodium per day were twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease than those who ate 2.8 grams daily.

Horikawa and team noted that the risk for cardiovascular disease was “dramatically elevated” among those who had high sodium consumption along with especially high blood sugar levels. These individuals had HbA1c levels greater than 9 percent.

HbA1c is a measure of average blood sugar during a two– to three-month period. Those with diabetes have HbA1c levels that are 6.5 percent of higher. The goal for those with diabetes is often to keep HbA1c under 7 percent.

“To reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, it is important for people who have Type 2 diabetes to improve their blood sugar control as well as watch their diet,” Horikawa said in a press release. “Our findings demonstrate that restricting salt in the diet could help prevent dangerous complications from diabetes.”

A common misconception is that the salt shaker is the biggest contributor to salt consumption, the AHA notes. About 3/4 of the sodium people eat, however, actually comes from processed and restaurant foods. The AHA recommends checking the nutrition labels on foods for sodium content per serving.

The study was published in July in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. The authors reported no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
July 28, 2014
Last Updated:
July 28, 2014