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    Heart Benefits From Cutting Back on Salt?

    Study Shows Reducing Salt Lowers Blood Pressure; Evidence Inconclusive on Preventing Heart Disease

    Salt and Heart Disease continued...

    However, the researchers found that salt restriction increased the risk of death from all causes in those with heart failure.

    They concluded there was not enough evidence to say whether the reduced salt had an effect on cardiovascular deaths in the other participants.

    A large-scale clinical trial looking at the impact of dietary salt reduction on health outcomes is needed, according to the Salt Institute.

    In the statement, Mort Satin of the Salt Institute says health policy on salt set by the government needs to be based on evidence. "The public health agencies have deliberately ignored the preponderance of clinical evidence in order to pursue a reckless salt reduction agenda based far more on ideology than science," according to Satin.

    Perspective of American Heart Association

    In a statement issued today, the American Heart Association (AHA) points out some shortcomings of the study. The studies included mostly middle-aged white or Asian people, for instance, yet high blood pressure is more common among older Americans and African-Americans. Also, the organization says the follow-up may not have been long enough, as heart disease and stroke risk develop slowly.

    The American Heart Association stands by its sodium advisory issued earlier this year, according to a spokesperson.

    The AHA calls for consumers, the U.S. government and the food industry to step up efforts to reduce salt intake.

    The AHA recommends the general population eat no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day. It cites ill effects of excess salt on blood pressure and a higher risk of kidney disease, stroke, and heart attack.

    Currently, Americans eat more than two times the recommended maximum of 1,500 milligrams daily, according to the AHA.

    A fast-food double cheeseburger, for instance, has about 1,051 milligrams of sodium, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

    The study results won't change the advice given by Suzanne Steinbaum, DO, preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. "Based on this study, I will continue to advise people to reduce the amount of salt in their diet," she tells WebMD.

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