Increased salt taste sensitivity in the 12 weeks following hospitalization for heart failure was associated with fewer days of rehospitalization, according to a study published in the American Journal of Cardiology.

In this study, 49 patients ≥55 years who were hospitalized for acute decompensated heart failure, were enrolled during their index hospitalization. Participants were randomly assigned at discharge to receive usual care or 4 weeks of home-delivered meals with 1500 mg sodium per day. Patients were followed for 12 weeks after discharge. Taste test strips standardized with specific sodium chloride crystal concentrations were used to assess sensitivity to salt taste.

A total of 25 patients (mean age, 71 years) had increased salt taste sensitivity over 12 weeks vs 24 patients (mean age, 69 years) who had no increase in salt taste sensitivity during this time.

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There were 60 and 121 cumulative readmission days over 12 weeks in the groups of patients with vs without an increase in salt taste sensitivity over 12 weeks, respectively. The group with vs without an increase in salt taste sensitivity had a lower mean number of hospital days over this period (5.45 vs 11.00 days, respectively; P =.03) and a greater mean reduction in B-type natriuretic peptide from admission to week 4 (-1036 pg/mL vs -72 pg/mL; P =.042).

Limitations of this study include the small sample size and the lack of adjustment for variables known to affect salt taste.

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“Our results show an increase in salt taste sensitivity may be a marker of improved [heart failure] outcomes given its association with fewer days readmitted and a larger reduction in [B-type natriuretic peptide] following [heart failure] hospitalization.”


Cohen LP, Wessler JD, Maurer MS, Hummel SL. Salt taste sensitivity and heart failure outcomes following heart failure hospitalization [published online April 20, 2020]. Am J Cardiol. doi:10.1016/j.amjcard.2020.04.008