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Heart Failure and
The Salt Connection


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If you've been told you have heart failure, it's important that you understand the effect salt can have on your health. Your heart has lost a lot of its pumping power. For whatever the reason, and there are many causes of heart failure, your heart is weaker than it used to be. You may have noticed swelling, or perhaps shortness of breath has been occurring lately. Are your rings or shoes tighter than the other day? It happens quickly. Maybe your eyes look puffy, or your belt is too tight in its usual notch. These are signs of too much fluid in your system. It can take several quarts of extra water in your body to puff your ankles just a little. More retained fluid means more puff and more work for your heart. Extra fluid gets stored everywhere, not just in your ankles. It will also go to your lungs and take up space where air belongs. When the air sacks in your lungs fill with fluid, oxygen can't get through. That's a big reason why you get short of breath. The extra fluid increases the pressure in your body. Your heart has to overcome that pressure in order to push blood out of your heart and around your body. But as you have just learned, your heart is weaker not stronger, so this is not a time to make the workload tougher for it.

Salt is like a sponge. It loves to soak up lots of fluid. The more salt in your system, the more fluid it will make your body hold. And as you've just learned, the more fluid in your system, the harder your heart has to work. The harder your heart works the sicker you feel and the sicker you get. It's a little like dominoes and every bit as hard to stop. The best way to manage the problem is to keep your salt intake at a bare minimum. Studies have shown that one of the biggest reasons heart failure patients end up in the hospital is because they don't adequately control their salt intake. There have been many, many times I've admitted folks to the hospital who ended up in bad trouble with their heart failure just because they got into some salt they should have avoided. Human nature being what it is, we all think we can cheat once in a while and not get caught. Reality is that there is always a price. For you, and millions of Americans like you, salt is poison.