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Too Much Salt Puts Added Stress on Heart

CardioSmart News

Excess sodium intake puts added stress on the heart, based on a recent study that found adults consuming more than 3,700 mg of sodium a day had reduced heart function.

Published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, this study looked at the association between sodium intake and heart function. It included nearly 3,000 U.S. adults participating in the Hypertension Genetic Epidemiology study, which investigates the genetics of high blood pressure.

Participants came from four U.S. sites including Salt Lake City, UT; Forsyth County, NC; Minneapolis, MN; and Birmingham, AL. Upon enrollment, participants underwent imaging to assess heart function and provided urine samples, which were used to assess sodium intake.

Half had high blood pressure at the start of the study, which was defined as having a blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or higher.

Based on urine analysis performed at the start of the study, participants consumed a median of 3,730 mg a day, which is high but similar to the average American diet. Currently dietary guidelines recommend no more than 2,300 mg of sodium daily, with lower levels for patients at higher risk for heart problems.

When comparing imaging results from echocardiograms, researchers found that adults consuming more than 3,700 mg of sodium a day had larger hearts and poorer heart function than those consuming less sodium. This association existed after accounting for factors that could impact heart function, like age, sex, smoking status and alcohol use.

Recent studies have cast doubt on sodium guidelines after linking both low and high sodium levels to increased health risks. However, findings confirm that excess sodium consumption can put added stress on the heart, potentially increasing risk for high blood pressure and heart disease.

Findings also highlight the need for Americans to significantly reduce sodium consumption to promote better health. The average American consumes more than 3,400 mg of sodium a day—similar to the excess levels of sodium consumption linked to poor heart function in this study. Thus, it’s important that Americans become more aware of how much sodium they consume and take steps to limit sodium to stay within current dietary guidelines to improve health.

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