Public Release: 

Electronic monitoring device may help lower salt intake

American Heart Association

Using an electronic monitoring device may help heart failure patients and their families stick to a low-salt diet, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2014.

The Family Sodium Watcher Program (Family SWAP) focuses on a partnership between the heart failure patient and a caregiver/member of the family to adapt to the taste of a low-salt diet and includes using an electronic monitoring device to detect salt content in food and avoid high-salt food during the adaptation period.

In the three-month trial of 15 patient-caregiver pairs:

  • The intervention group of eight patients received 12 weeks of self-care education for heart failure with gradual adaptive strategies in salt intake. Participants said the device was easy to use and helped them maintain a low-sodium diet. Some said they enjoyed their low-salt diets more and 90 percent noticed a change in their ability to taste salt in their food. Caregivers reported no increased burden due to the program.

  • The usual care/control group of seven patients didn't change behavior.

The Family SWAP may help the entire family improve their lifestyles, researchers said.

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The pilot study was funded by the American Heart Association and the University of Kentucky.

Misook L. Chung, R.N., Ph.D., associate professor, University of Kentucky College of Nursing, and co-director, RICH Heart Program, Lexington, Kentucky

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