Diet high in sodium and low in potassium may increase heart disease risk

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Scientists from the University of Calgary found that too much sodium and too little potassium intake in daily diet may increase heart disease risk.

The human body requires a small amount of sodium to conduct nerve impulses, contract and relax muscles, and maintain the proper balance of water and minerals.

But too much sodium in the diet may cause high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. It can also lead to calcium losses, some of which may be pulled from the bone.

Many people consume at least 1.5 teaspoons of salt per day, or about 3400 mg of sodium, which contains far more than our bodies need.

Potassium is an essential mineral that is needed by all tissues in the body.

It is sometimes referred to as an electrolyte because it carries a small electrical charge that activates various cell and nerve functions. Potassium is found naturally in many foods and as a supplement.

Potassium is necessary for the normal functioning of all cells. It regulates the heartbeat and ensures the proper function of the muscles and nerves.

Potassium and sodium are electrolytes that help the body maintain fluid and blood volume so it can function normally.

However, recent research found that consuming too little potassium and too much sodium can raise blood pressure.

The exact relation between sodium intake and heart disease remains unclear, this is partly because of inaccurate assessment of sodium intake.

In the study, the team tested 24-hour urinary excretion over a period of multiple days to accurately examine the link between sodium and heart disease risk.

They used data from six large studies of more than 10,000generally healthy adults. These people’s sodium and potassium excretion was assessed with the use of at least two 24-hour urine samples for each person.

During a 9-year follow-up, there were 571 heart attacks and strokes found. The average 24-hour urinary sodium excretion was 3270 mg.

The team found higher sodium and lower potassium excretion, and a higher sodium-to-potassium ratio were all linked to a higher heart disease risk.

In addition, each daily increase of 1000 mg in sodium excretion was linked to an 18% increase in heart disease risk.

Each daily increase of 1000 mg in potassium excretion was linked to an 18% decrease in heart disease risk.

Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that higher sodium and lower potassium intakes are linked to a higher heart disease risk.

These findings may support reducing sodium intake and increasing potassium intake from current levels.

The research is published in The New England Journal of Medicine and was conducted by Yuan Ma et al.

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