Does Cutting Salt Really Improve Heart Health?

by Meredith Melnick ,  | 2011-07-07

Asking people to reduce their dietary salt intake can help them slightly lower blood pressure, but it doesn't seem to have any effect on their risk of heart attack or heart-related death, according to a new review of existing research.

Professor Rod Taylor of the University of Exeter and his team looked at data from seven previously published randomized controlled trials that tracked salt intake and rates of death or serious cardiovascular events (like heart attack, heart surgery or stroke) among nearly 6,500 participants, with a follow-up of at least six months.

Although lowering dietary salt resulted in a small dip in blood pressure, the researchers found no strong evidence that it reduced rates of death in people with high or normal blood pressure. One study suggested that restricting salt in patients with congestive heart failure could even potentially increase risk of death.

Overall, the authors of the review concluded that there wasn't enough data in the pooled studies to make a conclusion about the impact of salt reduction on the risk of major cardiovascular events. Further rigorous, large and long-term studies are needed.

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