Dietary Sodium Intake and Mortality in the General Population

The majority of available epidemiologic evidence supports the concept that reduction of dietary sodium results in lower blood pressure. Although in hypertensive populations restriction of dietary salt is anticipated to reduce blood pressure and potentially enhance responsiveness to some categories of antihypertensive agents, it is not without consequence. For instance, low sodium diets have been associated with decrements in quality of life, and at least one report indicates greater risk of MI among hypertensive men with low urinary sodium excretion.

The authors of this report examined the relationship of salt intake to cardiovascular and all-cause mortality in the NHANES population, a sample of 20,729 men and women between the ages of 25 and 75 in the period 1971-1975. Follow-up information was obtained pertinent to this report through 1992 and addressed only the 9962 who were reportedly free of cardiovascular disease at baseline.

Analysis indicated that sodium intake was inversely associated with both all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. Alderman and colleagues conclude that current recommendations for routine reduction of sodium consumption in the diet of the general population are not justified.

Alderman MH, et al. Lancet 1998;351: 781-785.