Low Sodium Diet May Not Lead To Decline To Heart Failure


Low salt diet and heart failure: Surprising findings on life quality, hospitalization

A salt and pepper shaker on a table

Doctors have always recommended a decrease in salt intake for heart failure or other cardiac problems. However, research is still ongoing about how effective low sodium intake is in reducing events of hospitalization or emergency room visits.

A recent study found that while low sodium diets might help improve the quality of life for people with heart failure, they did not reduce clinical events like hospitalization or emergency room visits.

People with heart failure can experience a variety of symptoms, including the following:

  • Shortness of breath, persistent coughing or wheezing

  • Swelling because of the buildup of excess fluid

  • Feeling tired or fatigued

  • Increased heart rate, feeling heart palpitations

Many organizations and doctors encourage people who have heart failure to reduce the amount of salt in their diets. In theory, reducing the amount of sodium helps to prevent fluid overload in people with heart failure.

Researchers in the current study found that reducing sodium intake can benefit people with heart failure.

However, they found it might not help prevent hospitalizations and other adverse clinical outcomes. Their findings offer more insight into the recommendation for sodium intake for people with heart failure.

Researchers placed participants randomly into one of two groups. The intervention group went on a low sodium diet where they consumed less than 1,500 mg of sodium daily. The control group received the standard of care for the region where they were located.

Researchers specifically looked at the incidence of three main events over 12 months:

  • Hospitalization related to cardiovascular problems

  • Emergency room visits related to cardiovascular problems

  • Death from all causes

They also looked at a few other outcomes, including if following a low sodium diet improved the quality of life and NYHA classification among participants.

The researchers saw that the hospitalizations, emergency room visits, and all causes of death were not reduced for participants in the low sodium diet group compared to the control group.

They also acknowledge that participants in the control group might have reduced their sodium intake independently.

These results indicate that reduced sodium intake doesn’t significantly impact clinical events. So, researchers recommend that medical professionals look at it like other medical treatments and weigh the benefits based on each patient’s unique needs.

Norris, Jessica. “Do Low Salt Diets Improve Outcomes in Heart Failure?” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/low-salt-diet-and-heart-failure-surprising-findings-on-life-quality-hospitalization#Study-limitations-and-continued-research.