In a study from the Queen Mary University of London, scientists found that a cut of just 1 gram in daily salt intake could prevent nearly 9 million cases of heart disease and strokes by 2030.
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a common condition in which the long-term force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease.
Blood pressure is given in two numbers. The first number, called systolic blood pressure, is the pressure caused by your heart contracting and pushing out blood.
The second number, called diastolic blood pressure, is the pressure when your heart relaxes and fills with blood.
Dietary salt, or table salt, is made from two chemical elements: sodium and chloride. That’s why its chemical name is sodium chloride. It’s the sodium part that’s been tied to health problems.
The best-known effect of sodium on health is the relationship between sodium and blood pressure.
Many studies have linked a higher salt intake with higher blood pressure. Reducing salt intake, on the other hand, lowers blood pressure.
In China, salt intake is among the highest in the world (about 11 g/day) and heart disease accounts for 40% of deaths.
In the current study, researchers aimed to examine the possible impact of reducing salt intake on heart disease events in China.
They focused on the effect of salt reduction on systolic blood pressure and did a review of previous research.
The team found that reducing salt intake in China by 1 g/day could lower the risk for ischaemic heart disease by about 4% and the risk for stroke by about 6%.
If this reduced salt level can be sustained until 2030, about 9 million heart disease events could be prevented, of which ~4M would lead to death.
The team also found that greater and gradual salt intake reductions, to achieve WHO’s target of 30% reduction by 2025 or the Chinese government’s target of ≤5 g/day by 2030, could prevent about 1.5 or 2 times more CVD events and deaths.
They showed that if the prolonged effect of salt reduction over several years were estimated, heart disease and death risk would be reduced by 25% or more.
The researchers suggest that bringing down the high salt intake levels in China could result in large reductions in heart disease.
An easily achievable reduction of 1 g/day could prevent about 9 million heart disease events by 2030. Urgent action must be taken to reduce salt intake in China.
The research was published in BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health and conducted by Monique Tan et al.
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