Too much salt (sodium chloride) is bad for us, it can cause high blood pressure, strokes, and cardiovascular disease. That is the advice we generally receive, and we are recommended to try to lower our salt intake. In a paper published last month in the Journal Hypertension researchers found that low chloride ions in the blood (salt, or common table salt, is made up of sodium and chloride ions) was associated with an increased risk of death in patients with high blood pressure.
So what is going on? Well, normally when studying salt intake and the relationship to high blood pressure it is the amount of sodium ions in the blood that are measured. But, according to the researchers there has not been enough research on the levels of chloride ions in the blood. To complicate matters further, there are also potassium ions and bicarbonate ions to consider but we will not go there in this blog.
Their study followed a group of nearly 13,000 people with high blood pressure over a 35 year period. The people who had the lowest levels of chloride in their blood had a 20% increase risk of mortality. The group that had a normal level of sodium in the blood and levels of chloride of less than 100mEq/L (96-100mEq/L are considered normal) also had an increased risk of death compared to the group with normal levels of sodium and chloride levels over 100mEq/L.
The researchers recommend further studies to confirm this link, sounds like a good idea.