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Low Sodium Levels Are Associated With Increased Falls Among The Elderly, Study Finds

December 8, 2010 by  

Low sodium levels are associated with increased falls among the elderly, study findsScientists from the Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam in the Netherlands have discovered that older adults who have decreased levels of sodium in their blood are at an increased risk to experience a fall and suffer a fracture. This is true even among adults who have only mildly decreased levels of sodium.

For the study, more than 5,200 adults who were over the age of 55 were examined and followed for six years. The authors noted that previous research had found that low sodium levels — also known as hyponatremia — were associated with fractures, falls and osteoporosis.

Nearly 8 percent of the participants suffered from hypontremia, and these individuals also exhibited higher rates of diabetes compared to the subjects with normal sodium levels.

Overall, falls and fractures were more prevalent among the adults who suffered from hyponatremia — 24 percent as opposed to only 16 percent of the normal sodium level participants. The risk for vertebral fractures in the hyponatremia group was the greatest; 61 percent higher when compared to the normal adults.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one out of three adults who are at least 65 years old falls each year. 

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  • Julia

    Why then are people advised to lower their sodium levels?

    • EddieW

      Dr.s believed that sodium raised blood pressure…perhaps the so called iodized salt we get does…but it is an artificial salt, made in huge vats with 3 chemicals, and has but 3 minerals in it!! Sea salt has 17 minerals, and is far better that the chem salt that is made!!!If one don’t want to take salt, then they should take kelp…to make up for the lask of salt in their diet!! buy kelp at most vitamin companies! It also has all the minerals!! and is not hard on you!!!

  • Ronald Johnston

    This is another example of big government nanny state, the scare tactics about using common salt. Government would have been more helpful if they would expose the dangers of common table salt. Refined salt has 2 ingredients which prevent caking and are used at such low levels, they don’t have to be listed on the label. These 2 ingredients, I forget the names, are chemicals dangerous to our health. Mined sea salt is the only safe salt and has some traces of other beneficial elements.

  • coal miner

    Good Point:

    The normal concentration of sodium in the blood plasma is 136-145 mM. If thesodium level falls too late, it’s called hyponatremia; if it gets too high, it’s called hypernatremia.

    A sodium level in the blood that is too low is dangerous and can cause seizures and coma. Very high sodium levels can lead to seizures and death.

    Sodium is a mineral element and an important part of the human body. It controls the volume of fluid in the body and helps maintain the acid-base level. About 40% of the body’s sodium is contained in bone, some is found within organs and cells and the remaining 55% is in blood plasma and other fluids outside cells. Sodium is important in proper nerve conduction, the passage of various nutrients into cells, and the maintenance of blood pressure.

    The body continually regulates its handling of sodium. When a person eats too much or too little sodium, the intestines and kidneys respond to adjust concentrations to normal. During the course of a day, the intestines absorbs dietary sodium while the kidneys excrete a nearly equal amount of sodium into theurine.

    The concentration of sodium in the blood depends on the total amount of sodium and water in arteries, veins, and capillaries (the circulatory system). Thebody regulates sodium and water in different ways, but uses both to help correct blood pressure when it is too high or too low.

    If the body has too little sodium (called hyponatremia), the body can eitherincrease sodium levels or decrease water in the body. Too high a concentration of sodium (hypernatremia), can be corrected either by decreasing sodium orby increasing body water.

    There are many diseases that can cause abnormal salt levels, including diseases of the kidney, pituitary gland, and hypothalamus. This is especially a concern in elderly patients, who have a harder time regulating the concentrations of various nutrients in the bloodstream.

    Low salt levels can be caused by eating too little salt or excreting too muchsodium or water, and by diseases that impair the body’s ability to regulatesodium and water. Keeping to a low-salt diet for many months or sweating toomuch during a race on a hot day, can make it hard to keep sodium levels highenough. While these conditions alone aren’t likely to cause loss salt levels,it can occur under special circumstances. For example, patients taking diuretic drugs who eat a low-sodium diet may have hyponatremia. term=”Diuretics” type=”print-hyplink” >Diuretic drugs can correct high blood pressure by helping the body get rid of sodium into the urine — but excreting too much sodiumcan cause hyponatremia. Usually only mild hyponatremia occurs in patients taking diuretics. However, sodium levels can fall dangerously low in patients who eat a low-sodium diet and drinking too much water. Severe and prolonged diarrhea also can cause low sodium levels. A person with severe diarrhea can lose large amounts of water, sodium, and various nutrients. Some diarrheal diseases release especially large amounts of sodium and are most likely to cause hyponatremia. Drinking too much water may cause low sodium levels, because when the water is absorbed into the blood, it can dilute the sodium. This causeof hyponatremia is rare, but has been found in mentally ill patients who compulsively drink more than 20 liters of water a day. Excessive drinking of beer, which is mostly water without much sodium, can also produce hyponatremia when combined with a poor diet.

    Marathon running under certain conditions can lead to hyponatremia, since sweat contains both sodium and water. Studies show that about 30% of marathon runners experience mild hyponatremia during a race. However, drinking water during a race isn’t the answer — this can lead to severe hyponatremia because the drinking water dilutes the sodium in the bloodstream. Such runners may experience brain problems as a result of the severe hyponatremia and require emergency treatment.

    Hyponatremia also develops from disorders in organs that control the body’s regulation of sodium or water. The adrenal gland secretes a hormone that travels to the kidney, where it prompts the kidney to retain sodium by not excreting it into the urine. Addison’s disease, which damages the adrenal gland, cantherefore lead to low levels of sodium in the body.

    The hypothalamus and pituitary gland are also involved in sodium regulation by making and releasing vasopressin, known as the anti-diuretic hormone, intothe bloodstream. Vasopressin prompts the kidneys to reduce the amount of water released into urine. If the body produces too much vasopressin, it promptsthe body to conserve water, causing a lower concentration of sodium in the blood. In addition, certain types of cancer cells produce vasopressin, which also can lead to hyponatremia. If the body produces too little vasopressin, thebody doesn’t conserve enough water and the level of sodium in the body rises.

    High sodium levels may occur in diabetes insipidus, a disease that causes toomuch urine to be produced. In this type of diabetes, either the hypothalamusfails to make vasopressin, or the kidneys don’t respond to vasopressin. In either case, the kidney is able to regulate the body’s sodium levels, but can’t retain water. High sodium levels don’t occur in diabetes insipidus if the patient is able to drink enough water to keep up with urinary loss, which maybe as high as 10 liters per day.

    Sodium levels may rise in unconscious patients because they can’t drink water. Water is continually lost by evaporation from the lungs and in the urine; if the patient isn’t given water intravenously, the sodium concentration in the blood may increase and hypernatremia could develop. Hypernatremia can alsooccur in rare diseases in which the thirst impulse is impaired. Hypernatremiaalso can occur accidentally in the hospital when patients are given solutions containing sodium.

    Symptoms of high sodium levels can include confusion, coma, paralysis of thelung muscles, and death. The severity of the symptoms is related to how quickly the high sodium levels developed. If the levels build up suddenly, the brain cells can’t adapt to their new high-sodium environment. Hypernatremia is especially dangerous for children and the elderly. Moderately low sodium levels may trigger fatigue, confusion, headache, muscle cramps, and nausea. Severehyponatremia can lead to seizures and coma.

    Abnormal sodium levels are diagnosed by measuring the concentration of sodium in the blood. In low sodium levels, unless the cause is obvious, a variety of tests are needed to determine if sodium was lost from the urine, diarrhea,or from vomiting. Tests are also used to determine hormone problems. The patient’s diet and use of diuretics must also be considered.

    Severely low sodium levels can be treated by giving intravenous sodium and water into the blood. Moderate hyponatremia due to use of diuretics or high levels of vasopressin is often treated by drinking less water each day. Hyponatremia due to an abnormal adrenal gland is treated with hormone injections. High sodium level is treated with an intravenous solution of water a normal concentration of sodium. The infusion is performed over many hours or days to prevent abrupt and dangerous changes in brain cell volume. In emergencies, suchas when a high sodium level is causing brain symptoms, infusions may be conducted with half the normal concentration of salt.

    A low sodium level is just one manifestation of a variety of disorders. Whileit can easily be corrected, the prognosis for the underlying condition thatcauses it varies. The prognosis for treating a high sodium level is excellent, unless neurological symptoms are severe or if a doctor tries to reverse thecondition too quickly.

    It is not always easy to prevent abnormal salt levels. Patients who take diuretic medications must be checked regularly for the development of hyponatremia. High levels occur only in unusual circumstances that are not normally under a person’s control.

    • coal miner

      Too much water can be dangerous to your health. Check it out

    • Ellen

      Good stuff, Coal Miner.

      The medical mafia has been passing off this tripe as gospel for decades……it has done its work well. The actual facts are what these brainless wonders supposedly learn in their vaunted medical schools. Whatever they “learn” is supplanted by the promotion of drugs for anything and everything. It is all such crap.

  • Richard Pawley

    Some sea salt has dozens of different minerals in it. I have sea salt from several different countries but because of the increasing pollution in the seas I have found that mined salt is probably healthier. Some I get from an ancient sea bed in Utah (it’s 100 million years old) and some I get from the Himalayas and it is closer to 240 million years old. Salt is in every cell of our body. I even have a small 50 cent vial or travel jar from Wal-Mart that I take with me when I eat out so I don’t have to use the common salt provided. A small thing perhaps but they all add up to helping me keep away from doctors and hospitals and even though it costs more a little goes a long way.

  • Dragon Slayer

    Check out what flouride does to you… that is one reason yur bones get brittle beside dumb you down.


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