Is it safe for me to use a salt substitute?

When cutting down on the amount of salt (sodium) in your diet, you may be tempted to reach for a salt substitute. Youíll find many varieties of salt substitute in the spice aisle in your local grocery store. But if you have heart failure, youíll need to exercise some caution.

Some salt substitutes are a harmless mixtures of dried herbs. But others contain potassium, a mineral that can be dangerous for people with heart failure.

Potassium is essential in helping your body control the electrical balance of your heart as well. But too much potassium can cause dangerous heartbeat irregularities and even sudden death. Some of the drugs you may be taking for heart failure can upset the balance of this mineral in your body. For example, ACE inhibitors, angiotensin-receptor blockers, and aldosterone blockers can cause your body to hold on to excessive levels of this mineral.

Before you reach for the salt-substitute, check with your doctor to make sure itís safe for you to use.