Low Sodium Diet May Not Benefit Heart Failure Patients

Patients with Heart Failure May Experience Problems if They Do Not Consume Enough Salt in Their Diet

A new meta-analysis presented at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session Together With the World Congress of Cardiology suggests that restricting dietary sodium intake to levels below the standard recommended maximum of about 2.3 grams per day does not bring additional benefits and may increase the risk of death for people with heart failure.

The study, led by Dr. Anirudh Palicherla, an internal medicine resident at Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska, included nine randomized, controlled trials that assessed different levels of sodium restriction for people with heart failure and included data on rates of death and hospitalization. Together the trials enrolled nearly 3,500 patients.[0]

The researchers found that patients whose sodium intake fell below 2.5 grams per day were 80% more likely to die during the study than those whose target was 2.5 grams per day or higher. There was no trend toward increased hospitalizations among patients following more restrictive diets.[1]

It is suggested by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans that most adults should not consume more than 2.3 grams of sodium daily, which is equal to about one teaspoon of regular salt.[2] A 2016 study drew similar conclusions, finding no definitive proof that cutting salt intake reduces the risk of heart attacks or strokes for people in perfect health.[0]

Experts advise that in order to reduce sodium consumption, one should consume more fresh fruits and vegetables and prepare meals with basic ingredients instead of opting for processed, boxed and canned foods and sauces which tend to be higher in sodium.[1] When dining out or purchasing pre-made meals, inquire about nutritional content or read food labels and select items with the least amount of sodium.[2]

Researchers suggested that further research could be conducted to determine the most effective amount of dietary sodium for heart failure patients or to recognize any subgroups of heart failure patients who could benefit from more or less sodium restriction.

Heart failure is a chronic condition affecting 6 million American adults.[1] It is advised by doctors that a diet low in sodium should be adopted to help lower blood pressure, and so that the symptoms of fluid retention and swelling can be avoided.[2] Previous research has yielded conflicting conclusions as to what the optimal daily maximum sodium intake should be for individuals with heart failure.

The researchers mentioned that the clinical trials utilized varying study designs, including participant baseline characteristics, healthcare settings, and methods for tracking sodium intake and health outcomes, which signified significant variability.[2]

0. “Limiting salt could be deadly for heart failure patients: study” msnNOW, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/health-news/limiting-salt-could-be-deadly-for-heart-failure-patients-study/ar-AA17REVS

1. “Overly restricting dietary sodium can be harmful to people with heart failure” News-Medical.Net, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.news-medical.net/news/20230223/Overly-restricting-dietary-sodium-can-be-harmful-to-people-with-heart-failure.aspx

2. “Too Little Dietary Salt Can Mean Trouble for Heart Failure Patients” HealthDay News, 24 Feb. 2023, https://consumer.healthday.com/heart-failure-2659448946.html

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