Results of the study showed that higher levels of sodium excretion were associated with increased occurrence of carotid plaques, higher CACs, and coronary artery stenosis, even at normal blood pressure levels. The association was linear, meaning that each rise in salt intake was linked with more atherosclerosis. However, when adjusting for blood pressure, the associations were no longer present. When accounting for other established cardiovascular risk factors, only associations for carotid plaques remained.
The findings of this study suggest that salt could be damaging even before the development of hypertension and that individuals, not just those with hypertension or heart disease, should watch their salt intake. Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death in the US and globally, and this study sheds light on the importance of controlling salt intake to reduce the risk of developing the disease.