Less Sodium, More Potassium Can Have Major Health Impact

(HealthDay News) – Lowering salt intake and increasing potassium intake are associated with cardiovascular risk improvements and could have a major impact on global health, according to three meta-analyses published April 4 in BMJ.

Feng J. He., MD, from Queen Mary University of London in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis involving 34 trials and 3,230 participants to examine the effects of longer-term modest salt reduction on blood pressure, hormones, and lipids. The researchers found that a reduction of 4.4g/day correlated with a mean change of -4.18mmHg for systolic blood pressure and -2.06mmHg for diastolic blood pressure. Decreases in blood pressure were seen even after adjustment for age, ethnic group, and blood pressure status (normotensive or hypertensive). The reduction in salt had no effect on lipids, and was associated with small increases in plasma renin activity, aldosterone, and noradrenaline.

Nancy J. Aburto, PhD, from the World Health Organization in Geneva, and colleagues conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to examine the impact of decreased sodium intake on health. The researchers found that reduced sodium intake was associated with a decrease in blood pressure; with a similar association noted for children. Increased sodium intake correlated with increased risk of stroke, stroke mortality, and cardiovascular disease mortality, with no adverse effect on blood lipids, catecholamine levels, or renal function. In a third study, Aburto and colleagues found that increased potassium intake was associated with reduced blood pressure, and correlated with a lower risk of stroke.

“These results suggest that increased potassium intake is potentially beneficial to most people without impaired renal handling of potassium for the prevention and control of elevated blood pressure and stroke,” Aburto and colleagues write in the third study.

Full Text — He
Full Text — Aburto, second study
Full Text — Aburto, third study