Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy Low Sodium Diet

A person with alcoholic cardiomyopathy may benefit from a low sodium diet.

Increased salt leads to fluid retention and subsequent heart failure in some people with heart disease. Many heart patients will benefit by placement on a diet, which limits their sodium intake to no more than 2 grams of sodium per day. In some cases, restricting fluid intake can also be beneficial.

Tips on how to reduce your salt consumption:

  • Airlines will provide low sodium meals with a 24-hour notice.
  • Avoid eating fast foods.
  • Become compulsory label reader and purchase products that are low in salt.
  • Limit and eventually stop using salt and high sodium seasonings in cooking. Experiment with alternative flavorings such as herbs, spices, fruit juices, vinegar, and wines.
  • Limit and reduce your consumption of salty foods such as pickles, cured meats, salted snacks, and canned soups. Use more fresh products.
  • Look into the wide variety of unsalted food products that are currently on the market.
  • Reduce the amount of high sodium seasonings you use. These include soy sauce, steak sauce, garlic and onion salt, and monosodium glutamate.
  • Reduce the amount of salt you use at the table. Start by cutting the amount you add in half, and eventually remove the saltshaker from the table. Remember, 1 teaspoon of salt equals approximately 2000 mg of sodium.
  • When you are eating out, ask that you order be prepared without added salt.

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Last Updated: Nov 3, 2008 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy References
  1. Demakis JG, Proskey A, Rahimtoola SH, et al: The natural course of alcoholic cardiomyopathy. Ann Intern Med 1974 Mar; 80(3): 293-7. [4273902]
  2. Estruch R, Fernandez-Sola J, Sacanella E, et al: Relationship between cardiomyopathy and liver disease in chronic alcohol abuse. Hepatology 1995 Aug; 22(2): 532-8. [7635421]
  3. Fernandez-Sola J, Estruch R, Nicolas JM, et al: Comparison of alcoholic cardiomyopathy in women versus men. Am J Cardiol 1997 Aug 15; 80(4): 481-5. [9285662]
  4. Lee WK, Regan TJ. Alcoholic cardiomyopathy: is it dose-dependent? Congest Heart Fail. 2002 Nov-Dec;8(6):303-6. [12461319]
  5. McKenna CJ, Codd MB, McCann HA, Sugrue DD: Alcohol consumption and idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy: a case control study. Am Heart J 1998 May; 135: 833-7. [9588413]
  6. Patel VB, Why HJ, Richardson PJ, Preedy VR: The effects of alcohol on the heart. Adverse Drug React Toxicol Rev 1997 Mar; 16(1): 15-43. [9192055]
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