Findings from 9 studies in a recent meta-analysis show that reducing dietary salt consumption for individuals with heart failure to levels below the typically suggested maximum of roughly 2.3 grams per day may not offer extra benefits and may even increase the risk of death.
Over 6 million people in the United States suffer from chronic heart failure.
To lower blood pressure and prevent typical symptoms like fluid retention and swelling, doctors advise following a low-sodium diet.
The ideal maximum daily salt intake for people with heart failure, however, has generated conflicting results in earlier research.
The study’s lead author, Anirudh Palicherla, shared that “Our findings showed that restricting dietary sodium content to less than the usual recommendation was rather counterproductive when trying to manage heart failure. This was actually in line with a recent randomized controlled trial suggesting restricting sodium more than what we do now does not necessarily lead to better outcomes.”
According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, most individuals should keep their daily sodium consumption to 2.3 grams or less—or around one teaspoon of table salt.
Over 3.4 grams of salt are consumed daily by the average American, however.
Researchers examined nine randomized controlled studies that evaluated various salt restriction levels for individuals with heart failure and contained information on hospitalization and mortality rates.
Except for one older research published in 1991, the majority of studies were carried out between 2008 and 2022.
Together, the studies recruited around 3,500 participants with heart failure.
Researchers showed that patients who followed a diet with a daily goal salt intake below 2.5 grams were 80 percent more likely to pass away than those who followed a diet with a target of 2.5 grams per day or higher after analyzing results from all trials.
The sodium restrictions in the more strict research ranged from around 1.2 to 1.8 grams daily. An increase in hospitalizations among individuals who follow more restrictive diets was not shown by the research.
Palicherla explained that “Limiting sodium is still vert much the way to go in order to help manage heart failure, but the restriction amount has been up for debate. This study shows the focus should be on establishing a safe level of sodium instead of overly restricting it.”
The study designs employed in the clinical trials, according to the researchers, varied significantly, including participant baseline characteristics, healthcare settings, and techniques used to monitor salt consumption and health outcomes.
Other trials did not ask individuals to limit their hydration in addition to their salt intake.
However, according to Palicherla, the researchers are quite confident in the overall results because of the sheer volume of studies and participants involved.
More research may clarify the ideal sodium intake targets or reveal subsets of patients who could benefit from greater or lesser sodium restriction, according to the team of researchers.
In order to reduce salt intake, experts advise eating more fresh produce, cooking with simple ingredients as opposed to processed ones, packaged, and canned meals and sauces, which frequently have high sodium contents.
Ask for nutritional information or study the labels while eating out or purchasing prepared foods, and pick the things with the least amount of salt.