Jul 6 2011
Cutting down on salt may not be enough to prevent a heart attack, research has suggested.
Moderate reductions in salt intake make no difference to the risk of dying or suffering events such as heart attacks or strokes, said experts.
A review of data from seven studies including 6,489 participants found lowering salt consumption did lead to a "small reduction" in blood pressure after more than six months.
But the research, published in the latest edition of The Cochrane Library, failed to show an impact on rates of death or cardiovascular events.
Most experts agree that consuming too much salt is bad for health, and reducing salt intake can benefit people with both normal and high blood pressure.
"We believe that we didn't see big benefits in this study because the people in the trials we analysed only reduced their salt intake by a moderate amount, so the effect on blood pressure and heart disease was not large," said Professor Rod Taylor from the University of Exeter.
Guidelines from the National Institute of health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) have called for predicted maximum daily salt consumption in England to be halved from six grams in 2015 to three grams by 2025.
"With governments setting ever lower targets for salt intake, and food manufacturers working to remove it from their products, it's really important that we do some large research trials to get a full understanding of the benefits and risks of reducing salt intake," said Prof Taylor, who led the study.
The Cochrane Library is a collection of databases containing evidence to inform healthcare decision-making.