Latest Research Highlights: Dietary Sodium and Potassium and Risk of Heart Disease

Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 2022

24-Hour Urinary Sodium and Potassium Excretion and Cardiovascular Risk

Yuan Ma, Feng He, Qi Sun, Changzheng Yuan, Lyanne Kieneker, Gary Curhan, Graham MacGregor, Stephan Bakker, Norm Campbell, Molin Wang, Eric B Rimm, JoAnn Manson, Walter C Willett, Albert Hofman, Ron Gansevoort, Nancy Cook, Frank Hu

Authors combined data from over 1,000 HPFS participants with four other studies from the US and Europe to investigate this question in more than 10,000 healthy adults. They compared individuals with high and low levels of sodium and potassium and found that participants with the highest levels of sodium in the urine were 60% more likely to have a heart attack, stroke or coronary artery procedure than those with the lowest sodium levels. Those with the highest levels of potassium had a 31% lower risk of cardiovascular events than those with lowest levels. In general, reducing your use of the salt shaker, intake of store-bought packaged foods which are often high in salt, and frequency of eating out will help decrease sodium. In addition, increasing intake of fruits, leafy greens, starchy vegetables, beans, low-fat dairy, and seafood will help boost potassium in your diet. Please refer to Box 1 (page 5) to see whether your diet includes common sources of sodium and potassium – maybe you’ll even get some new ideas about how you can change your diet to reduce your heart disease risk.