Severely restricting dietary sodium might have unexpected results, a new study suggests.

Excess sodium consumption has been linked to higher rates of heart attack, stroke and heart failure.

But a new international study of nearly 29,000 people suggests those with low salt intake had higher rates of cardiovascular death and hospitalization for congestive heart failure.

It was only those with sodium intake of about three to six grams a day that researchers found the lowest rates of heart attacks, strokes and heart failure.

Study co-author Dr. Salim Yusuf of McMaster University in Hamilton says the findings challenge the assumption that the lower the sodium content in food, the healthier it is.

Many researchers and groups, including the Heart and Stroke Foundation, want a national policy to reduce sodium content in foods.

The study is in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study was funded by Boehringer-Ingelheim. Several study authors reported receiving fees from Boehringer-Ingelheim and other makers of blood pressure medications.