Salt Tied to Heart Disease Risk in Overweight Individuals
Nov. 30, 1999 (Cleveland) -- For overweight patients, reducing daily salt
intake could benefit their cardiovascular health, especially if weight loss is
slow or not possible, according to a recent study published in the Dec. 1 issue
of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
"Our study indicates that a high sodium intake increases mortality from
stroke, coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and all causes in
overweight persons," lead author Jiang He, MD, PhD, tells WebMD.
He and fellow authors analyzed data from the first National Health and
Nutrition Examination Survey Epidemiologic Follow-up Study, derived from a
nationally representative sample of the general population of the U.S.
Information on daily salt intake and body mass index was gathered from 9,485
patients aged 25-74 years at the time of the survey. There were 2,688
overweight subjects and 6,797 non-overweight subjects included in the
After an average follow up of 19 years, these authors found that in
overweight subjects, an increase of about 6 g of salt or 2.4 g of sodium per
day was associated with a 39% increase in death from all causes. There was a
32% increase in the incidence of stroke, an 89% increase in death from stroke,
and a 61% increase in death from heart disease among those who were overweight.
However, in non-overweight subjects, dietary salt intake was not linked with
cardiovascular disease risk.
According to most current recommendations, including those put out by the
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the American Heart Association,
Americans should consume no more than 2,400 mg of sodium (or 6 g of salt) per
"Our findings suggest that reduced sodium intake may be especially
efficacious in overweight persons. To reduce the cardiovascular disease risk in
overweight patients, physicians should recommend both weight loss and sodium
reduction. For persons with difficulty losing weight, greater attention to
reductions in sodium intake may be appropriate," says He, who is assistant
professor of epidemiology at Tulane University School of Public Health and
Tropical Medicine in New Orleans.
"[Now] there is even more reason for patients and their families to
strive for moderate reductions in the consumption of dietary sodium,"
concludes the senior author of the study, Paul K. Whelton, MD, MSc.
- For people who are overweight, reducing daily salt intake may lower the
risk of death from stroke, heart disease, and all other causes.
- In people who are not overweight, salt intake is not associated with
- Current guidelines recommend that Americans consume no more than 2,400 mg
of sodium per day.