July 30, 2009

Long-term benefits of less salt unclear

Reducing salt can result in lower blood pressure, but it's unclear if this helps those with sustained high blood pressure long-term, German researchers say.

The findings are published in a form of a rapid report in Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care.

The study involved an assessment of seven reviews from a total of 62 randomized controlled trials.

The study found that no conclusions on late complications could be drawn from the available data. None of the studies had the primary goal of investigating the effects of a low-salt diet on cardiovascular disease or all-cause mortality, the researchers said.

The investigations consistently show that a reduction in salt intake can assist in lowering blood pressure: over a period of up to one year, there was a mean drop of 3.6 to 8 millimetres of mercury in systolic values and a mean drop of about 2 to 3 mmHg in diastolic values. This applied primarily to patients who did not take any additional anti-hypertensive drugs.

The sustainability of this effect, however, remains unclear, the review said.