AHA: Cutting Salt Would Reduce Heart Disease, Deaths

Computer simulation results support efforts to limit salt content in processed foods

FRIDAY, Mar. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Even a modest decline in the U.S. population's average daily intake of salt -- currently estimated at 9 to 12 grams -- would have a dramatic effect on reducing the incidence of cardiovascular disease and deaths, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's 49th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention, held Mar. 10 to 14 in Palm Harbor, Fla.

Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, Ph.D., M.D., of the University of California San Francisco, and colleagues used the Coronary Heart Disease Policy Model -- a computer simulation of heart disease in U.S. adults aged 35 to 84 -- to estimate the effect that an immediate reduction of daily salt intake of 0 to 6 grams would have between 2010 and 2019.

The researchers estimated that each gram of salt reduction would result in 250,000 fewer new heart disease cases and more than 200,000 fewer deaths over a 10-year period. They calculated that even a modest 3-gram reduction would result in 6 percent fewer cases of new heart disease, 8 percent fewer heart attacks, and 3 percent fewer deaths in the general population, and that it would have an even greater effect among black patients, reducing new heart disease cases, heart attacks and deaths by 10 percent, 13 percent and 6 percent, respectively, in these patients.

"Salt intake has actually increased by 55 percent from the 1970s to the present; over this same time period, the prevalence of hypertension increased by 50 percent," the authors write. "These worsening trends have led to calls for population-wide interventions to reduce salt in processed foods in the U.S., as have already been initiated in other countries, either through labeling and voluntary commitments from the food industry or through regulation. Our findings provide evidence to support these calls."

More Information

Physician's Briefing