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1.6 Million Cardiovascular-Related Deaths Linked to High Sodium in Diet

Aug 14, 2014 02:42 AM EDT
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Around 1.6 million cardiovascular-related deaths per year are linked to excess sodium in diet, a new study has found.

The World Health Organization recommends people to consume no more than 2.0g (2,000mg) of sodium per day.

The researchers at the Tufts University and colleagues analyzed data from 187 countries and have found that at least 1.6 million deaths due to cardiovascular problems are linked to excess salt consumption.

The team found that in 2010, the average global sodium consumption was around 3.95 g per day. Nearly every country surveyed had salt intake above the levels recommended by the WHO. Consumption of salt ranged from 2.18g per day in sub-Saharan Africa to 5.51g per day in Central Asia.

"High sodium intake is known to increase blood pressure, a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases including heart disease and stroke," said Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., lead author of the study. "However, the effects of excess sodium intake on cardiovascular diseases globally by age, sex, and nation had not been well established."

The team also conducted a meta-review of controlled intervention studies and found that reduction in sodium intake lowered blood pressure in adults. Old people, blacks and people with high blood pressure showed the greatest improvement in health with reduced sodium intake.

"These 1.65 million deaths represent nearly one in 10 of all deaths from cardiovascular causes worldwide. No world region and few countries were spared," added Mozaffarian, according to a news release. "These new findings inform the need for strong policies to reduce dietary sodium in the United States and across the world."

The U.S. is also winessing an increase in sodium intake and related health effects. The researchers found that the average sodium consumption in the country was around 3.6 g per day, which is around 80 percent higher than the level recommended by WHO. According to the researchers, at least 58,000 cardiovascular deaths could be linked to high sodium intake.

Sodium in diet doesn't just come from the salt shaker on the table, but from various processed foods. Smoked bacon (1,803 mg of sodium per 100-gram serving), Caesar salad dressing (1,079 mg); and of course, fries, hot dogs and chicken strips contain high levels of sodium.

The study is published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

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