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Less Salt Could Save Your Life, Study Reports

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Less Salt Could Save Your Life, Study Reports

January 25, 2010

By Stephanie Lachapelle for Body1

A new study published in the The New England Journal of Medicine suggests that decreasing salt intake by only half of a teaspoon per day may save thousands of American lives each year by reducing the number of heart attacks and strokes.

Currently figures posted by the American Heart Association indicate that both salt consumption and blood pressure have risen by roughly 50% since the 1970’s despite broad public knowledge of the connection between salt intake and high blood pressure.

Federal sources indicate that the average American male eats more than ten grams of salt per day, about twice as much as the recommended amount. Many Americans find it difficult to reduce salt intake because much of this salt is disguised in processed foods.

Researcher Dr. Kirstin Bibbins-Domingo, Associate Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco, and co-director of the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations at San Francisco General Hospital, issued a statement saying that “A very modest decrease in the amount of salt, hardly detectable in the taste of food, can have dramatic health benefits for the US…It was a surprise to see the magnitude of the impact on the population, given the small reductions in salt that we were modeling”. It is estimated that the US could save about 24 billion dollars in healthcare costs by reducing salt intake by just a small amount.

These researchers suggest that by lowering daily salt intake by three grams per day, or about half a teaspoon, Americans would suffer 11% fewer new cases of heart disease, 13% fewer heart attacks, 8% fewer strokes and 4% fewer deaths. These are astounding implications for such a minute reduction. Executive Vice President for Health and Biomedical Sciences and Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine at Columbia University Dr. Lee Goldman said, "Reducing dietary salt is one of those rare interventions that has a huge health benefit and actually saves large amounts of money."

A small reduction in salt intake has additional benefits. Dr Glenn M. Chertow, Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Nephrology at Stanford University, says that “In addition to its independent benefits on blood pressure, reducing salt intake can enhance the effects of most anti-hypertensive (blood pressure lowering) agents and reduce complications associated with diabetes, obesity and kidney disease."

Read the study at The New England Journal of Medicine(NEJM) website

For more information on heart conditions check out Heart1

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