Sodium is an essential mineral for the human body, yet too much of it can cause problems for the human heart. An overload of sodium in the bloodstream can lead to higher blood pressure, which can increase risk in people with higher-than-average blood pressure for serious, potentially life-threatening conditions.
The Center of Disease Control recommends that Americans consume less than 2300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day as part of a healthy eating program, yet Americans will eat more than 3400 mg each day on average. This means people who are particularly prone to high blood pressure must be extremely cautious about the food they eat and where they get it. As common as sodium is in American foods, knowing what to avoid can be critical for long-term health.
We’ve outlined four reasons lowering your sodium intake can be a beneficial boost to your overall health:
1. Too Much Sodium Can Lead to Stroke and Heart Failure
As it directly relates to your heart and high blood pressure, too much sodium puts people with high blood pressure at higher risk for stroke and heart failure. Sodium will raise the amount of water in your blood, thereby increasing the volume of blood in your vessels.
This increase in volume can cause blood pressure to spike, putting additional strain on your heart and, for that matter, your brain. This high blood pressure can also affect arteries that send blood to the brain and the oxygen brain cells need to function properly. A ruptured blood vessel or blood clots in arteries leading to the brain can cause a blockage of blood flow that directly causes a stroke.
2. An Overload of Sodium Can Put Pressure on Your Kidneys
Your kidneys help your body regulate fluid balance, and sodium is a necessary mineral for that process. Too much sodium, however, causes blood to extract more water, raising blood pressure while also preventing the kidneys from performing their function - pulling unnecessary water from the blood. This strain on the kidneys can eventually lead to kidney disease.
Salt intake also increases the amount of urinary protein, which is a major contributing factor for both kidney disease and heart disease.
3. Sodium Can Cause an Enlarged Heart Muscle
Blood pumping with higher-than-normal force through the arteries can wear down the heart over time. High blood pressure as a result of increased sodium intake can force the heart to work harder than normal, eventually leading to an enlarged heart and its associated symptoms.
These symptoms can include difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, dizziness, heart palpitations, and irregular heartbeat.
4. Sodium Can Affect Your Appearance
Because sodium increases the amount of water in your blood, this can lead to visible effects in your appearance, including bloating. While this is only temporary, it can be upsetting and uncomfortable for people who take in too much sodium at one time.
Don’t Take Sodium Intake with a Grain of Salt
Overloading on sodium can be easy with many modern diets, so keeping an eye on your sodium intake can help you keep your heart in a healthy state. Certain foods, such as soups, can have high sodium content. Checking nutritional information before buying foods or eating out can help you keep your blood pressure in check and prevent any serious heart conditions.
To schedule a heart scan or Peripheral Artery Disease & Carotid Artery Disease Screening, reach out to us today at (918) 879-6161.