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High salt intake directly linked to stroke and heart disease

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, high levels of salt consumption are directly linked to increased risk of stroke and heart disease. The findings also show that reducing salt intake by 5 grams daily would lower incidence of stroke twenty-three percent and total cardiovascular disease by seventeen percent.

The positive impact on health worldwide by reducing salt intake would prevent 1.25 million fatal and non-fatal strokes, and almost 3 million heart related events from vascular disease annually.

The study that high salt intake is linked directly to stroke and heart disease is a joint effort from World Health Organization's Collaborating Centre for Nutrition, at the University of Warwick and University Hospital in Coventry, UK, and the European Society of Hypertension Excellence Centre in Hypertension.

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According to Professor Francesco Cappuccio, Head of the World Health Organisation Collaboration Centre at Warwick Medical School, "We have seen reductions in the salt content of several food items, due to the collaboration between governments, public health bodies and sectors of the industry on a voluntary basis. However, the progress towards the recommended targets has been slow. For population salt intake to approach the WHO targets within a reasonable time, a regulatory approach is necessary, in addition to health promotion campaigns, to reduce the burden of avoidable death, disability and associated costs to individuals and society caused by unacceptable high levels of salt in our diet".

The authors say most adult populations consume more than 10 grams of salt daily. Consuming no more than 5 grams of salt daily could significantly reduce incidence of heart disease and stroke worldwide.

Salt increases blood pressure. High blood pressure in turn accounts for 62 percent of all strokes and 49 percent of coronary heart disease events. The editors of the study also note that heart disease is the leading cause of disability worldwide in individuals over age 60. Reducing salt consumption to no more than 5 grams daily is suggested and could significantly reduce incidence of stroke and heart disease worldwide.