Low Sodium Predicts Poor Health

June 13, 2008 | Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

Send to a friend

* Required fields

  or  Cancel

 Low Sodium Predicts Poor Health
Researchers working with patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension1 (PAH) - chronically high blood pressure in the blood vessels of their lungs – were quite surprised to find that those whose blood level of sodium lower than the normal range had an 85% chance of dying in the next eight months.

The researchers were studying 40 PAH patients, concluding “All ten patients with a serum sodium less than 135 mEq/L died, whereas all 16 subjects with sodium concentration of 140 mEq/L or greater survived." Low sodium also predicted PAH patients in the worst health - poor kidney function, worse fluid retention, and weaker hearts.

PAH is a serious problem because the artery going from the right side of the heart to the lungs has narrowed, forcing the right side of the heart to work much harder than normal. Standard medical care includes a low sodium diet to help reduce edema, which for any patient with a low blood sodium level is now shown to be deadly. So much for the “one size fits all” approach to medicine. I doubt PAH patients will be warned.

This study interested me because it confirms a clinical observation I have made for many years. Every time a see low sodium on a blood test I know that person needs a lot of help. When your blood levels of sodium drop it is reflective of big-time stressors going on in a variety of other systems in your body.

Sometimes this problem is self-induced from a low sodium diet. I recently reported that researchers linked low sodium intake to increased risk of cardiovascular disease. I link low sodium to strained adrenal glands that are really having trouble keeping up with demands – whatever those demands may be. When sodium drops low in your blood it means your overall body is getting de-energized.

Boosting adrenal function, along with moderate sodium intake, can help your body offset stress and so better cope with any other issue – which in many cases may be the difference between getting better and getting worse. The preaching of a low sodium diet to the general public by the medical profession is a reckless public health message.

Referenced Studies

  1. ^ Low Sodium Predicts Mortality in PAH Patients  American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine  

Search thousands of health news articles!