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Friday, August 31, 2007

SODIUM: The Silent Killer?

In 1966 I lost my dear Father to a cerebral hemmorhage. His stroke was very sudden and left the whole family in total shock. He was a young man, 53 years of age and in good health all of his life, other than the fact that he did have hypertension (high blood pressure). He always had frequent headaches, yet we always thought they were from the pressures of raising a large family and the stresses of working seven days a week. As I look back on my Father's hypertension, and having hypertension myself now for many years, and having regular headaches myself, I often wonder whether something could have been done back then to prevent his early demise. I would often note even as a young girl that he would use large amounts of salt on his food. I have analyzed over the years that whenever I have eaten anything salty I wind up with an excruciating headache, and I find it so totally agonizing. Now I have not cooked with salt for many years, nor do I put salt on any of my food items when eating, all well knowing that I will wind up with an exploding headache...but gosh there is sodium in just about everything these days.....just check out some food items in your cupboard and you will see what I mean. I still notice if I have cooked certain food items which already contain sodium, especially canned items I still get headaches. It almost can't be helped. But I must say I have become ever more vigilant in checking labels for sodium content as I have an increasing awareness of the risk factors in using salt or sodium related products. I must admit that I am always concerned about a stroke and the medical factors that can lead to a stroke, so I hope today's post might behoove others to consider some of the factors. Increased intake of sodium is a known risk for strokes and other medical ailments. The following is an article you might find helpful, and possibly the following links might prove to be a benefit to you and hopefully will answer some of your questions about hypertension, strokes, and other related disorders. Increased cholesterol and triglyceride levels are also a great risk and can also cause strokes as well as heart disease. I have also taken a very new interest in these two levels myself as I have recently been told that both of my levels were well out of the normal range. So I am also including some links here that will again hopefully answer some of your questions about cholesterol and triglycerides and the risks of stroke and heart disease.


Modest reductions in salt intake can dramatically lower heart disease risk, new research shows.
In an extended follow-up of two rigorously designed trials, people who reduced their dietary sodium while participating in the studies saw 25 percent reductions in heart disease and stroke risk 10 to 15 years later, compared with people who ate their usual diets.
Most people in the intervention arm of the studies -- where participants reduced the sodium in their diet -- lowered their sodium intake by 25 percent to 30 percent, researcher Nancy Cook, ScD, of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, tells WebMD.
"This was not salt restriction, it was salt reduction," she says. "These people ate normal diets, but we taught them how to look out for hidden salt and avoid it."
5 Tips on Reducing Salt IntakeEating less sodium can help lower some people's blood pressure. This can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Sodium is something we need in our diets, but most of us eat too much of it. Much of the sodium we eat comes from salt we add to our food at the table or that food companies add to their foods. So, avoid adding salt to foods at the table and use these 5 tips to reduce your salt intake:
Take stock of the sources of salt in your diet, such as restaurant meals, salt-based condiments, and convenience foods. Some of these are really loaded with salt.
Read the labels when shopping. Look for lower sodium in cereals, crackers, pasta sauces, canned vegetables, or any foods with low-salt options.
If you think your meals are high in sodium, balance them by adding high-potassium foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
Ask about salt added to food, especially at restaurants. Most restaurant chefs will omit salt when requested.
If you need to salt while cooking, add the salt at the end; you will need to add much less. The longer the food cooks, the more the salty flavor is muted and at the end, the final taste is on the top layer.

Sodium and Health

Heart Disease: Mayo Clinic

Hypertension: Mayo Clinic

High Cholesterol Risk Factors

High Triglyceride Risk Factors

The Symptom Checker

Diagnostic Blood Test Normal Ranges: Merck Manual Home Edition