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Regional professional researches sodium’s impact on health

One very salty subject

July 5, 2011
By STACEY KUKKONEN , Houghton Daily Mining Gazette

LAKE LINDEN - For some, sodium intake is a salty subject.

Americans are told by doctors every year to cut back their salt intake. However, one local health professional said it's a subject that needs looking into, and these days, she's investing her time into learning more about salt intake.

"I wrote an article because there was just a study that came out about salt intake," said Shannon Handler, a family nurse practitioner at the Aspirus Keweenaw Health Clinic in Lake Linden. "High salt diets may not be directly related to deadly outcomes from heart disease."

Article Photos

Common table salt is seen above. Although health professionals have for years warned that salt intake should be limited, a Copper Country researcher is taking another look. (Houghton Daily Mining Gazette photo by Stacey Kukkonen)

Although the matter needs serious evaluation, Handler said after reading about a 2011 study in the Journal of America Medical Association titled "Fatal and nonfatal outcomes, incidence of hypertension, and blood pressure changes in relation to urinary sodium excretion," the way salt is used in the diet may not be as harmful as people may think.

"Results from past studies shows a lowering of systolic blood pressure with lower salt intake may not correlate to long-term benefit," she said.

As a result, Handler wrote an article titled "The Dangers of Salt Revisited," which delves into a new study by Stolarz-Skrzypek, et al (2011) and the relationship between blood pressure and mortality.

Handler said in the study, a group of more than 3,000 participants were followed during an eight-year period. During that time, the participants' sodium levels were determined by the amount of salt collected in the urine, she said.

"Results showed that death from heart and blood-pressure related causes was higher in the group with low sodium," she said. "There were less deaths in the group with high sodium excretion compared to moderate and low."

Handler said more research is needed to find out if the low-sodium diet actually caused heart problems in certain types of people.

"This means talk to your doctor about the amount of salt you eat and how it relates to your blood pressure over time and continue to monitor the news for more information on this topic as it becomes available," she said.



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