Excess salt intake contributes to high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. According to a recent study, excess salt also increases the risk of atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm disorder that increases the risk of stroke fivefold. The advice of Alexandra Murcier, dietician-nutritionist to reduce its use.
English researchers reveal that people who add salt to their meals are 22% more likely to suffer from atrial fibrillation. This is a heart rhythm disorder that causes the heart to race and beat irregularly. Atrial fibrillation affects 1% of the general population, with a prevalence in people over the age of 80. It would be responsible for 20 to 30% of strokes. This disorder may be asymptomatic. When it causes symptoms, the main signs are palpitations, a sensation of an abnormally beating heart, recent and unexplained fatigue or more or less marked shortness of breath.
Reduced risk in those who avoid salt or consume it occasionally
The results of this study were presented at the congress of the European Society of Cardiology in Amsterdam. The researchers followed more than 300,000 Britons aged between 40 and 70 for 11 years. They were particularly interested in the impact of the regular addition of salt on their cardiovascular health. Here are their conclusions:
- Participants who habitually completely avoid salt had an 18% reduced risk of developing atrial fibrillation compared to those who consumed it daily;
- Participants who consumed salt occasionally had a 15% reduced risk of developing atrial fibrillation compared to those who consumed it daily.
These results show that the more we reduce our salt intake, the lower the risk of developing atrial fibrillation, an important risk factor for stroke.
Salt is bad for the heart
This study is not surprising in the sense that many studies in the past have shown the link between excessive salt consumption and increased heart risk. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “high sodium intake (> 2 grams/day, equivalent to 5 grams of salt per day) and insufficient potassium absorption (less than 3.5 grams per day) contribute to high blood pressure and risk increased heart disease and stroke”.
She recommends consuming less than 5 grams (just under a teaspoon) of salt per day. A contribution much lower than what is observed in Western countries. “In Europe, we are above 10 grams per day”, points out Alexandra Murcier, dietitian nutritionist.
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How can we reduce our salt intake?
To preserve our heart, it is therefore essential to reduce our salt consumption. Here are the tips of Alexandra Murcier, dietitian-nutritionist, for consuming salt in reasonable quantities:
- Always taste your dish before adding salt;
- Replace salt with spices to enhance the taste of food;
- Systematically read the labels of the products you buy and choose those that contain the least salt;
- Limit the consumption of products naturally rich in salt (ham, aperitif cakes, mustard, bread, pastries, cheeses, etc.). “For example, during a meal, if you eat ham, avoid eating cheese at the end of the meal”, advises Alexandra Murcier.
- Limit the consumption of carbonated water rich in sodium (Vichy Célestin, Saint Yorre, Arvie, etc.).