AHA News: Lower Your Sodium, and Blood Pressure Will Follow

Vinceti said the study’s findings support the AHA guidance. “The lower, the better,” he said. “Even below 1.5 grams (1,500 mg), there is a decrease in blood pressure.”

Indeed, for every 2,300 mg reduction in sodium intake, systolic blood pressure fell by an average of 5.6 millimeters of mercury and diastolic pressure fell by 2.3 mmHg.

The study is not a comprehensive assessment of sodium because it looked only at blood pressure as an outcome, Vinceti said. However, because uncontrolled high blood pressure is a top risk factor for heart disease, stroke and neurological conditions like dementia, “we think this is probably – as most people think – the most important point to be assessed,” he said.

The findings suggest people who reduce their sodium intake through eating a healthier diet could see significant impacts on cardiovascular health. Among the studies analyzed, those based on a modification of diet showed a bigger effect than those that used other interventions.

Simply eating healthier may itself be having an effect, said Dr. J. Brian Byrd, an assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School. He was not involved in the study.

“Just changing the amount of sodium in the diet had an effect in the study, no question,” he said. “But it seems like you magnify that effect when you improve your diet in general.”

For those looking to lower their blood pressure and cardiovascular disease risk, Byrd said, “one of the messages seems to be that changing the diet for a healthier one will be even more powerful than just reducing salt.”

American Heart Association News covers heart and brain health. Not all views expressed in this story reflect the official position of the American Heart Association. Copyright is owned or held by the American Heart Association, Inc., and all rights are reserved. If you have questions or comments about this story, please email [email protected]

— Kat Long