Salt substitution may reduce death risk in heart disease

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A recent study highlighted in the Annals of Internal Medicine has brought attention to the potential benefits of salt substitution, particularly for individuals at higher cardiovascular risk.

The research, conducted by Hannah Greenwood and her team at Bond University in Queensland, Australia, focused on evaluating the long-term effects of salt substitution on cardiovascular health.

The review analyzed data from 16 randomized controlled trials, with eight of these studies focusing on key outcomes such as mortality, major cardiovascular events (MACE), and adverse events observed over a period of six months or longer.

Of these trials, seven involved participants who were older or at a higher cardiovascular risk than the general population.

The findings from Greenwood’s study are encouraging. They suggest that salt substitution could lead to a reduction in all-cause mortality and cardiovascular mortality.

Specifically, the rate ratios for all-cause mortality and cardiovascular mortality were 0.88 (with a 95 percent confidence interval ranging from 0.82 to 0.93) and 0.83 (with a confidence interval from 0.73 to 0.95), respectively.

These statistics indicate a noticeable decrease in mortality rates among those who participated in salt substitution, albeit the certainty of these results is considered low.

Additionally, the study observed a slight decrease in the occurrence of major cardiovascular events with salt substitution, with a rate ratio of 0.85 and a confidence interval from 0.71 to 1.00. However, the evidence supporting this reduction is of very low certainty.

Importantly, the review found very low-certainty evidence of serious adverse events associated with salt substitution, with a risk ratio of 1.04 (confidence interval from 0.87 to 1.25).

This suggests that salt substitution does not significantly increase the risk of serious harms, making it a potentially safe intervention.

The authors of the study advocate for salt substitution as a viable, low-cost, and scalable non-drug intervention that could reduce mortality outcomes.

Given the very low certainty of the evidence for reducing MACE and the minimal risk of serious adverse events, salt substitution appears to be a promising strategy for individuals, particularly those at higher risk for cardiovascular issues.

This study underscores the importance of dietary interventions in managing and potentially reducing cardiovascular risk. Salt substitution could be a straightforward and accessible method to help mitigate these risks in populations vulnerable to cardiovascular diseases.

As always, further research with higher certainty evidence would help confirm these findings and potentially guide public health recommendations and personal health decisions.

If you care about heart health, please read studies about how eating eggs can help reduce heart disease risk, and Vitamin K2 could help reduce heart disease risk.

For more information about health, please see recent studies that olive oil may help you live longer, and Vitamin C linked to lower risk of heart failure.

The research findings can be found in Annals of Internal Medicine.

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