We’ve all heard that salt, in excessive quantities, is bad for us. And that remains true. However, according to a new study from Chicago, we should take that with a grain of salt, as heart patients might die if they reduce their salt intake.
The meta study
Dr. Rami Doukky, cardiologist at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago is the one who led study, using data collected from a previous medical trial.
The previous study used a food questionnaire in order to look at the effects of the levels of salt intake in heart failure patients, over a period of three years.
Researchers looked at 833 subjects, but mostly focused on a random sample of 130 patients with reduced sodium intake and on another one consisting of 130 patients with no restrictions on how much salt they consumed.
The results were quite troubling, as they showed that 46% of the subjects that had their sodium intake reduced ended up either dead or hospitalized because of more heart failure complications.
Meanwhile, the patients without restrictions were only 26 percent likely to end up in the same situation.
When talking about the full sample of 833 subjects, the results were even more dramatic, with the patients that reduced their intake of sodium being 85% more likely to die or be hospitalized.
Effects of salt on the circulatory system
Generally, from a physiological point of view, salt intake should be bad for the body. And this is why.
Salt is a mineral, and this particular type of mineral causes the body not only to retain water, but also it pulls more fluids to the blood vessels.
This is a bad thing for heart failure patients, as they are already struggling with fluid retention at the level of their blood vessels, and their hearts don’t have enough power to keep the fluids, blood included, pumping.
Additionally, blood pressure is known to be increased by excessive salt intake, putting the patients at further risk of heart disease.
There’s more than meets the eye
The researchers don’t really know the reason why reducing the salt intake leads to a higher chance of death and subsequent hospitalization, but they do have some theories.
The most plausible of them would be that reducing the salt intake releases hormones that speed up heart failure, or that by reducing the fluid levels in your circulatory system, your heart doesn’t get used to having less work to do, so it overexerts itself more quickly.
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