Low Sodium Diet for Heart Failure Patients

More than 5.5 million people in the U.S. have a medical diagnosis of heart failure (HF).With the direct and indirect cost of heart failure estimated at $37 billion in the U.S. for 2009, it is imperative that health care providers actively involve patients and their families in the management of care to produce optimal patient outcomes.

Q: What is sodium?
A: Sodium is a mineral which is vital to the body. The right amount helps regulate body fluids, maintain the pH balance, and aid in muscle performance and heart action.

Q: Where is sodium found?
A:
The most common form of sodium is salt or sodium chloride. Other forms of sodium include sodium phosphate, sodium nitrates, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and any compounds with sodium included. Food packages are required to contain ingredient listings and “nutrition facts” labeling that help you make healthy, lower sodium choices.

Q: What effect does sodium have on the heart?
A:
Eating excess sodium can cause the body to retain too much fluid. Excess fluid causes swelling around the heart and interferes with proper pumping action of the heart muscle. This worsens the effects of heart failure.

Q: How will a low-sodium diet help?
A:
Low-sodium nutrition therapy can help you feel better and prevent future heart problems. Limiting the amount of sodium that you eat and drink helps prevent and control the buildup of fluids around your heart or in your abdomen and legs.

Q: What are my sodium limits?
A:
The nutrition plan for heart failure usually limits sodium to 2000 milligrams (mg) per day. A good rule is to select foods with no more than 140 mg of sodium per serving listed on the food label. Foods with more than 300 mg of sodium per serving may not fit into a low sodium diet.

Q: How should I keep track of my sodium levels?
A:
You may want to keep a journal of the amounts of sodium you consume through- out the day to be more accurate. Buy fresh vegetables and fruits whenever possible. They are naturally low in sodium. Fresh meats, breads, and dairy products can be low in sodium as well. Carefully read the labels of all packaged, processed, or canned foods to determine their sodium content per serving.



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