Effects of salt substitutes on clinical outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis

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Abstract

Objectives The Salt Substitute and Stroke Study (SSaSS) recently reported blood pressure-mediated benefits of a potassium-enriched salt substitute on cardiovascular outcomes and death. This study assessed the effects of salt substitutes on a breadth of outcomes to quantify the consistency of the findings and understand the likely generalisability of the SSaSS results. Methods We searched PubMed, Embase and the Cochrane Library up to 31 August 2021. Parallel group, step-wedge or cluster randomised controlled trials reporting the effect of salt substitute on blood pressure or clinical outcomes were included. Meta-analyses and metaregressions were used to define the consistency of findings across trials, geographies and patient groups. Results There were 21 trials and 31 949 participants included, with 19 reporting effects on blood pressure and 5 reporting effects on clinical outcomes. Overall reduction of systolic blood pressure (SBP) was-4.61 mm Hg (95% CI-6.07 to-3.14) and of diastolic blood pressure (DBP) was-1.61 mm Hg (95% CI-2.42 to-0.79). Reductions in blood pressure appeared to be consistent across geographical regions and population subgroups defined by age, sex, history of hypertension, body mass index, baseline blood pressure, baseline 24-hour urinary sodium and baseline 24-hour urinary potassium (all p homogeneity >0.05). Metaregression showed that each 10% lower proportion of sodium choloride in the salt substitute was associated with a-1.53 mm Hg (95% CI-3.02 to-0.03, p=0.045) greater reduction in SBP and a-0.95 mm Hg (95% CI-1.78 to-0.12, p=0.025) greater reduction in DBP. There were clear protective effects of salt substitute on total mortality (risk ratio (RR) 0.89, 95% CI 0.85 to 0.94), cardiovascular mortality (RR 0.87, 95% CI 0. 81 to 0.94) and cardiovascular events (RR 0.89, 95% CI 0.85 to 0.94). Conclusions The beneficial effects of salt substitutes on blood pressure across geographies and populations were consistent. Blood pressure-mediated protective effects on clinical outcomes are likely to be generalisable across population subgroups and to countries worldwide. Trial registration number CRD42020161077.

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Yin, X., Rodgers, A., Perkovic, A., Huang, L., Li, K. C., Yu, J., … Neal, B. (2022). Effects of salt substitutes on clinical outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Heart, 108(20), 1608–1615. https://doi.org/10.1136/heartjnl-2022-321332

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