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How Much Salt Is Best for the Heart?
Date:11/22/2011

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Nov. 22 (HealthDay News) -- For people with heart disease or diabetes, too little salt may harbor almost as much danger as too much salt, researchers report.

Reducing salt is still very important in people consuming more than 6,000 or 7,000 milligrams of sodium per day, said Dr. Martin O'Donnell, lead author of a study in the Nov. 23/30 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

But people who already consume moderate or average amounts of salt may not need to reduce their intake further, added O'Donnell, an associate clinical professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, in Canada.

"We're seeing more and more that there may be an optimal moderate amount of salt that people should be eating," said Dr. John Bisognano, professor of medicine and director of outpatient cardiology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, in New York. "This is reassuring for people who eat a diet that is moderate in salt."

Bisognano was not involved with the study, which was funded by pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim.

After years of seemingly happy agreement that people should lower their salt intake, experts recently have begun debating whether or not lower salt intake is actually good for everyone.

One recent study found that although cutting back on salt does lower blood pressure, it may also increase levels of cholesterol, triglycerides and other risk factors for heart disease.

Another study found that lower sodium excretion (sodium excretion is a way to measure how much salt is consumed) was associated with an increased risk of heart-related deaths, while higher sodium excretion was not linked with increased risks for blood pressure or complications from heart disease in healthy people.

However, in the latest study, results were somewhat different.

These authors looked at how much sodium and pot
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