Sodium intake linked to increased risk of heart disease death in overweight persons

A diet high in sodium increases the risk of heart disease-related mortality in overweight individuals, according to a study published in the December 1 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The study, which was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), followed the health of a representative group of U.S. adults over a 20-year period. Among those adults who were overweight, there was a 63% greater risk of death from cardiovascular disease for those who consumed the highest amounts of sodium relative to their caloric intakes compared to adults who consumed the lowest amounts of dietary sodium.

"This new and compelling evidence couples dietary sodium intake with an increased risk of death from coronary heart disease. This relationship is compounded by overweight, which, as we know has become a serious problem in this country," said NHLBI Director Dr. Claude Lenfant.

The new analysis is based on data from participants in the First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES I) who were recontacted several times over 20 years in the NHANES I Epidemiologic Follow-up Study (NHEFS); both studies were conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

This analysis included 9,485 of the original 14,407 adult participants in NHANES I (1971-1975). From 1971 to 1992, there were 810 total deaths among the 2,688 overweight participants, with 214 of these deaths from heart disease. The study, led by Dr. Jiang He of the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, also evaluated the relative risk of disease and death from cardiovascular factors associated with a 100 mmol/day increase in sodium intake, about 6 grams or 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt. The analysis showed that among overweight adults cardiovascular mortality risk increased 61% for each additional 100 mmol of dietary sodium consumed on a daily basis.

Additionally, the study showed

Contact: Communications Office
NIH/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

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