Too much salt paired with too little potassium may increase people’s risk of mortality, according to a study co-authored by Harvard School of Public Health professor of nutrition and epidemiology Frank Hu. Hu and colleagues found that people with a diet high in sodium and low in potassium had a 50% increased risk of death from any cause, and roughly twice the risk of death—a 200% increase—from a heart attack, lead author Elena Kuklina of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control told Reuters. The study adds to a growing body of research warning of the dangers of high salt intake.
For the study, published July 11, 2011 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the researchers looked at the long-term effects of sodium and potassium intake on 12,000 people over a 15-year period. By the end of the study period, 2,270 study participants had died—825 from heart disease and 433 from blood clots and strokes. Those who had a high salt intake and a low potassium intake were most at risk.
Public Health Takes Aim at Sugar and Salt (Harvard Public Health Review)
Salt and Sodium: The Bottom Line (HSPH Nutrition Source)