The signs and symptoms of heart failure
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Being the essence of every savoury dish, salt is the most popular seasoning out there. Whether you sprinkle it on your chips or use it to enhance the flavour of your go-to pasta sauce, you’re bound to have a salt shaker in your kitchen cupboard. While this simple ingredient might make your taste buds rejoice, your cardiovascular system doesn’t feel the same. However, a new study now suggests that you might not want to cut down too much.
According to the NHS, adults shouldn’t have more than six grams of salt per day, which is the equivalent of one teaspoon.
However, patients with moderate or severe heart failure – a condition that means that your heart is unable to pump blood around the body properly – should stay below two grams a day, according to The Heart Failure Society of America.
The reason why the common seasoning needs to be eaten with caution comes down to excess sodium being able to raise blood pressure.
Worryingly, a high reading can lay the groundwork for conditions like heart failure and heart attacks.
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Blood Pressure UK explains: “If you already have high blood pressure, too much salt will raise it further, and may mean that any blood pressure medicines you’re taking don’t work as well as they should.”
However, new research suggests that eating too little salt may actually raise the risk of early death in heart failure patients.
The new study, which will be presented at the American College of Cardiology’s annual summit on Thursday, found that restricting dietary sodium intake to less than the usual recommendation was counterproductive.
Looking at data from nine previous clinical trials, the researchers assessed the effectiveness of different levels of sodium restrictions in heart failure patients.
When combined, the studies had data from nearly 3,500 heart failure patients.
The research team found that those struck by heart failure with a sodium intake below 2.5 grams per day were 80 percent more likely to die, compared to those with a target above that threshold.
In the more restrictive parts of the research, sodium allowances varied from about 1.2 to 1.8 grams per day.
The researchers didn’t see a trend toward increased hospitalisations among patients following more restrictive diets.
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Dr Anirudh Palicherla, who led the study, said: “Limiting sodium is still the way to go to help manage heart failure, but the amount of restriction has been up for debate.
“This study shows that the focus should be on establishing a safe level of sodium consumption instead of overly restricting sodium.”
The research team is now urging the scientific community to further discuss optimal targets for dietary sodium in people with potentially deadly conditions.
For now, they recommended that people consider limiting their sodium intake by eating more fresh fruits and vegetables while cooking with basic ingredients.
Worryingly, sodium is hidden in just about every food you buy from grocery stores, which makes it difficult to keep track of your total intake.
Blood Pressure UK explains: “Most of the salt we eat is hidden in the foods we buy ready-made, like bread, biscuits, breakfast cereals, sauces and condiments, as well as ready meals and takeaways.
“This hidden salt accounts for around three quarters (75 percent) of the salt we eat, only a small amount comes from the salt we add while cooking or at the table.”
To take control of your salt intake back, the charity recommends looking at the labels and avoiding foods with high salt content, which is 1.5 grams or more per 100 grams of the food.
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