High salt intake causes 1.65M heart-related deaths per year

WASHINGTON, (PNA/Xinhua) — About 1.65 million heart-related deaths per year can be attributed to sodium consumption above the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 2.0g per day, a new study said Wednesday.

The study, published in the U.S. journal The New England Journal of Medicine, collected and analyzed existing data from 205 surveys of sodium intake in countries representing nearly three-quarters of the world’s adult population, in combination with other global nutrition data.

It found the average level of global sodium consumption in 2010 to be 3.95g per day, nearly double the 2.0g recommended by the World Health Organization.

All regions of the world were above recommended levels, with regional averages ranging from 2.18g per day in sub-Saharan Africa to 5.51g per day in Central Asia.

Globally, nearly one in 10 of all deaths from heart attacks, strokes and other heart-related diseases, or 1.65 million deaths per year, were caused by eating too much salt.

Notably, four of five of these deaths occurred in middle- and low-income countries, and two of five of these deaths occurred prematurely, meaning they died before the age of 70 years.

“No world region and few countries were spared,” said first and corresponding author Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

“These new findings inform the need for strong policies to reduce dietary sodium in the United States and across the world.”

Sodium is a vital nutrient and is necessary for the body to function. However, high sodium intake is known to increase blood pressure, a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases including heart disease and stroke.