​Taking too much salt increases the risk of heart failure

The WHO advises limiting salt intake to 5 g per day to prevent disease as new research reveals that consuming more than 13.7 g of salt per day can double the risk of developing heart failure.

Getty Image

A high intake of salt in the diet has been associated with a significant increase in the odds of developing heart failure , regardless of other risk factors, such as hypertension , according to the results of an investigation in which analyzed data of 4,630 people has been presented at the Congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) 2017 .

This study has revealed that individuals taking more than 13.7 g of salt per day are almost twice as likely to suffer from heart failure compared to those who consume less than 6.8 g per day.

The researchers came to this conclusion after studying the participants – men and women between 25 and 64 years old – that had been included in the North Karelia Salt Study or the National FINRISK Study, between 1979 and 2002.

These volunteers answered questionnaires by providing information on their health habits, and clinical measurements were performed at baseline, including 24-hour blood and urine sample analyzes, to determine levels of sodium excretion in urine to measure salt intake. The follow-up lasted an average of 12 years, and during the same 121 people were diagnosed with heart failure .


The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that not more than 5 g of salt per day is consumed , although our biological need for this mineral is estimated to be reduced to about 2-3 g per day. The greatest difficulty in reducing their consumption is that almost 80% of the salt we eat is in processed foods, so it is essential the collaboration of the food industry to reduce the salt content in the packaged foods that it sells.

Dr. Pekka Jousilahti of the National Institute of Health and Welfare of Helsinki, Finland, and principal investigator of the work, has pointed out that further studies are needed to determine what would be optimal salt consumption, but that there is enough evidence to adopt measures to help reduce the amount of salt consumed by the population, both in Europe and worldwide. In fact, in Finland, average salt consumption has declined from 14 g per person per day in the 1970s to around 6 g per day for women and about 7 g per day in males.