Sodium Limits Advised for Heart Health

Study showing less sodium will not lower heart disease risk discounted

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A recent study published in the American Journal of Hypertension revealed that consuming less sodium would not lower the risk of heart disease or stroke. Now the American Heart Association is questioning the study's findings and trying to put that research into perspective.

Though the published study found no link between sodium and heart disease, the American Heart Association is still recommending that sodium intake be limited -- even for those without high blood pressure.

"Limit your daily sodium intake to 1500 mg."

The American Heart Association noted that the review, "Reduced Dietary Salt for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease," published in the July 2011 issue of the American Journal of Hypertension, included mostly middle-aged white or Asian participants. In the United States, hypertension more often affects African-Americans and the elderly.

That study also included patients with heart failure, which means the findings may not be applicable to the population as a whole. A trend showed fewer deaths in patients with normal blood pressure and low sodium intake, but the American Heart Association said that was mostly due to small study size and a limited number of events.

Additionally, the organization said the results may not apply to the U.S. because of the seven studies included in the review, some were conducted in Taiwan, Australia and Italy. Conclusions were also reached based on just six to 71 months of study, which the heart organization said is not long enough to draw conclusions since high blood pressure and subsequent heart disease and stroke risk develop slowly.

American Heart Association officials also pointed out that sodium consumption was measured through diet diaries instead of the more reliable urinary salt excretion measurement.

During their lifetime, 90 percent of Americans will suffer from high blood pressure. The American Heart Association continues to strongly recommend individuals limit daily sodium consumption to 1500 mg, regardless of whether they have ever suffered from hypertension.

This recommendation is based on an expert consensus and published research, which supports the need to reduce sodium as part of a public health effort to prevent heart disease and stroke.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 7, 2011
Last Updated:
July 8, 2011