Sodium intake and cardiovascular health

Circ Res. 2015 Mar 13;116(6):1046-57. doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.116.303771.


Sodium is an essential nutrient. Increasing sodium intake is associated with increasing blood pressure, whereas low sodium intake results in increased renin and aldosterone levels. Randomized controlled trials have reported reductions in blood pressure with reductions in sodium intake, to levels of sodium intake <1.5 g/d, and form the evidentiary basis for current population-wide guidelines recommending low sodium intake. Although low sodium intake (<2.0 g/d) has been achieved in short-term feeding clinical trials, sustained low sodium intake has not been achieved by any of the longer term clinical trials (>6-month duration). It is assumed that the blood pressure-lowering effects of reducing sodium intake to low levels will result in large reductions in cardiovascular disease globally. However, current evidence from prospective cohort studies suggests a J-shaped association between sodium intake and cardiovascular events, based on studies from >300 000 people, and suggests that the lowest risk of cardiovascular events and death occurs in populations consuming an average sodium intake range (3-5 g/d). The increased risk of cardiovascular events associated with higher sodium intake (>5 g/d) is most prominent in those with hypertension. A major deficit in the field is the absence of large randomized controlled trials to provide definitive evidence on optimal sodium intake for preventing cardiovascular events. Pending such trials, current evidence would suggest a recommendation for moderate sodium intake in the general population (3-5 g/d), with targeting the lower end of the moderate range among those with hypertension.

Keywords: cardiovascular diseases; prevention and control; sodium chloride.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / genetics
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Diet, Sodium-Restricted / adverse effects
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / diet therapy
  • Hypertension / etiology
  • Kidney / physiopathology
  • Lipids / blood
  • Natriuresis / physiology
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Renin-Angiotensin System / physiology
  • Sodium, Dietary / adverse effects*
  • Sodium, Dietary / pharmacokinetics


  • Lipids
  • Sodium, Dietary