Saving American Lives by Lowering Salt Intake

English: Checking the blood pressure by using ...

English: Checking the blood pressure by using a sphygmomanometer and stethoscope. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Two of the most important seasonings any good chef relies on is salt and pepper because they bring out the flavor in food. However, Americans are increasingly at risk of increased mortality from hypertension, a condition associated with high levels of salt.

The body needs salt, and the kidneys regulate salt level within the body to be sure it stays at the appropriate level by expelling the excess in urine. When salt intake levels become extreme, the kidneys become overwhelmed and the salt winds up in the bloodstream where it attracts water. As the water increases, the volume of blood increases, which raises blood pressure.

Americans high salt intake levels aren’t coming from the salt shaker on the dinner table. Eighty percent of the salt ingested comes from manufactured food products, so it is imperative for population-wide health that food companies lower the salt levels in their product lines.

The proof of how important this is can be found in a study published in Hypertension, which used three different  models to analyze the effect of salt reduction in the US population over the next 10 years. The researchers used data for:

  • The direct  effects on cardiovascular disease mortality
  • The indirect effects caused by blood pressure changes as observed in studies of medications used to lower blood pressure
  • Epidemiological studies (studies that look at the causes for a disease)

The 3 different models were  used to evaluate the same scenarios:

  • Scenario A – gradual uniform reduction of salt consumption totaling 40 percent over 10 years
  • Scenario B – instantaneous  40 percent reduction in salt consumption sustained for 10 years to achieve a population-wide average of 2200 milligrams per deciliter of blood
  • Scenario C – instantaneous reduction to 1500 mg sodium daily sustained for 10 years

Here’s what the researchers found:

  • A gradual reduction in salt consumption over  the next 10 years, achievable with proposed public health interventions, would result in 280 000 to 500 000 less deaths.
  • Instantaneous reductions would result in 0.7–1.2 million less deaths  in 10 years.

~ by chasm63 on February 12, 2013.

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