Consuming a little less salt could mean fewer deaths

Mar 11, 2009

For every gram of salt that Americans reduce in their diets daily, a quarter of a million fewer new heart disease cases and over 200,000 fewer deaths would occur over a decade, researchers said at the American Heart Association's 49th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention.

These results were derived from a validated computer-simulation of among U.S. adults.

"A very modest decrease in the amount of — hardly detectable in the taste of food — can have dramatic health benefits for the U.S.," said Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, Ph.D., M.D., M.A.S., lead author of the study and an assistant professor of Medicine and of Epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco. "It was a surprise to see the magnitude of the impact on the population, given the very small reductions in salt that we were modeling."

A 3-gram-a-day reduction in (about 1200 mg of ) would result in 6 percent fewer cases of new heart disease, 8 percent fewer heart attacks, and 3 percent fewer deaths. Even larger health benefits are projected for African Americans, who are more likely to have high and whose blood pressure may be more sensitive to salt. Among African Americans, new heart disease cases would be reduced by 10 percent, heart attacks by 13 percent and deaths by 6 percent.

For years, ample evidence has linked salt intake to and heart disease. Yet, among Americans has risen by 50 percent and blood pressure has risen by nearly the same amount since the 1970s, according to researchers.

Currently, Americans eat 9-12 grams of salt per day (or 3600-4800 mg of sodium. This amount is far in excess than recommended by most health organizations (5-6 grams/day of salt or 2000-2400 mg sodium). Each gram of salt contains 0.4 grams of sodium.

"It's clear that we need to lower salt intake, but individuals find it hard to make substantial cuts because most salt comes from processed foods, not from the salt shaker," Bibbins-Domingo said. "Our study suggests that the food industry and those who regulate it could contribute substantially to the health of the nation by achieving even small reductions in the amount of salt in these processed foods."

To estimate the benefit of making small reductions in salt intake, the investigators used the Coronary Heart Disease Policy Model, a computer simulation of heart disease in the U.S. adult population. The model can be used to evaluate the impact of policy changes on the health of the nation, and has previously been used to project the future of heart disease in the United States given the current rate of childhood obesity, Bibbins-Domingo said.

The researchers used the model to estimate the impact of an immediate reduction of daily salt intake by 0�� grams on the incidence of cardiovascular disease and deaths between 2010�. In that period, the model suggests that more than 800,000 life-years could be saved for each gram of salt lowered. Larger reductions would have greater benefits, with a 6 gram reduction resulting in 1.4 million fewer heart disease cases, 1.1 million fewer deaths and over 4 million life-years saved.

Because the majority of salt in the diet comes from prepared and packaged foods, the results of the study reveal the need for regulatory changes or voluntary actions by the food industry to make achievable changes in heart health, Bibbins-Domingo said.

The researchers are planning to assess the cost-effectiveness of various interventions already being used to reduce salt consumption in other countries, including industry collaborations, regulations and labeling changes.

Co-authors are: Glenn M. Chertow, M.D., M.P.H.; Andrew E. Moran, M.D., M.A.S.; Pamela G. Coxson, Ph.D.; and Lee Goldman, M.D., M.P.H. Individual author disclosures are available on the abstract.

The study was funded by the University of California, San Francisco Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute Strategic Opportunities for Support intramural grant.

Source: American Heart Association (news : web)

Explore further: Oil-swishing craze: Snake oil or all-purpose remedy?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Reducing kids' salt intake may lower soft drink consumption

Feb 20, 2008

Children who eat less salt drink fewer sugar-sweetened soft drinks and may significantly lower their risks for obesity, elevated blood pressure and later-in-life heart attack and stroke, researchers reported in the print ...

Migraines increase stroke risk during pregnancy

Mar 10, 2009

Women who suffer migraines are at an increased risk of stroke during pregnancy as well as other vascular conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and blood clots, concludes a study published on bmj.com today.

AT&T to put 8,000 natural-gas vehicles on road

Mar 11, 2009

(AP) -- AT&T Inc. said Wednesday it will spend up to $350 million over five years to buy more than 8,000 Ford Motor Co. vans and trucks, then convert them to run on compressed natural gas.

Recommended for you

Suddenly health insurance is not for sale

10 hours ago

(HealthDay)— Darlene Tucker, an independent insurance broker in Scotts Hill, Tenn., says health insurers in her area aren't selling policies year-round anymore.

Study: Half of jailed NYC youths have brain injury (Update)

10 hours ago

About half of all 16- to 18-year-olds coming into New York City's jails say they had a traumatic brain injury before being incarcerated, most caused by assaults, according to a new study that's the latest in a growing body ...

Autonomy and relationships among 'good life' goals

17 hours ago

Young adults with Down syndrome have a strong desire to be self-sufficient by living independently and having a job, according to a study into the meaning of wellbeing among young people affected by the disorder.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

fixer
not rated yet Mar 12, 2009
Bad headline, not fewer deaths, but longer life.
Anyhow, who wants to live forever if all you can eat is boring tasteless food.

More news stories

Treating depression in Parkinson's patients

A group of scientists from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging has found interesting new information in a study on depression and neuropsychological function in Parkinson's ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...