Thu, Apr 18, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Lack of salt and high blood pressure can spark water intoxication: doctor

By Chen Kuan-pei and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A neurologist in Changhua County said that people with high blood pressure should not eliminate salt completely from their diet after a 65-year-old woman fainted from water intoxication.

The woman, surnamed Chiang (江), had a history of high blood pressure and heart disease, and took medication to lower her blood pressure, said Yeh Tsung-hsun (葉宗?), director of the neurology department at Yuan Sheng Hospital.

For years, Chiang drank more than 2 liters of water per day, but did not add salt to her food, he said.

Following a report on the radio, she changed to a diet of white toast for breakfast, used soy sauce — but no salt — in preparing her lunch and dinner, and rinsed food with water to remove any salt when dining out, he said.

She did not report the changes to her doctor, he said.

One morning, as she was riding her bicycle to the grocery store, she fainted at a traffic light and was taken by a passerby to the emergency room, Yeh said.

A blood test showed that her sodium level had fallen to 110 millimoles per liter (mmol/L) and her potassium level to 2.9mmol/L, compared with normal levels of 135 to 145mmol/L and 3.5 to 5.5mmol/L respectively, Yeh said.

Neither a sodium excess nor deficiency is good for the human body, he added.

Chiang fainted due to the long-term lack of salt in her diet, which led to sodium and potassium imbalances, resulting in water intoxication, he said.

Her symptoms subsided after treatment and she was assigned a dietitian to help her manage her diet, he said.

Hospital dietitian Wang Shu-ying (王姝穎) said that people with high blood pressure who are on low-sodium diets should still consume 5 to 6 grams of salt per day.

Eating a moderate amount of fruits and vegetables with high levels of potassium. such as bananas, is also beneficial for patients with high blood pressure, Wang said.

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