ATLANTA — Salt intake among adults ages 71 to 80 was not significantly associated with mortality or risk for cardiovascular disease or heart failure in a study published on-line Jan. 19 inJAMA Internal Medicine.

A total of 2,642 adults self-reported estimate sodium intake in a community-based, prospective cohort study that began in 1997. After 10 years, 881 had died, 572 who did not have cardiovascular disease at baseline had developed CVD, and 398 had developed heart failure. Ten-year mortality rates were 33.8 percent for those consuming less than 1,500 mg of sodium per day, 30.7 percent for those consuming 1,500 to 2,300 mg of sodium per day, and 35.2 percent for those consuming more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day.

In adjusted Cox proportional hazards regression models, sodium intake was not associated with mortality.

“In conclusion, we observed that sodium intake estimated by FFQ [food frequency questionnaire] was not associated with mortality or risk for CVD and HF in a cohort of adults 71 to 80 years old,” the researchers said. “Our data emphasize the need for stronger evidence, preferably from rigorous controlled trials testing additional thresholds for sodium intake, before applying a policy of further sodium reduction to older adults beyond the current recommendation for the general adult population.”

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommends people in the general population consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day while people age 51 and older should consume less than 1,500 mg per day.

Andreas Kalogeropoulos, MD, MPH, Ph.D., of Emory Univ. in Atlanta, led the study. Among the people in the study, 51.2 percent were female while 61.7 percent were white and 38.3 percent were black. Men consumed a median of 2,850 mg of sodium per day while the median for women was 2,320 mg per day.

Grants from the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Aging, the National Institute of Nursing Research and the National Center for Advancing Translational Services supported the study.