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High Salt Intake Can Increase Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Study suggests population-wide efforts to reduce salt intake are warranted

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 25 (HealthDay News) -- High salt consumption is associated with increased risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease, and, given that average salt consumption in most Western countries is close to double the World Health Organization-recommended limit of 5 g a day, population-wide measures to control salt intake are warranted, according to a study published Nov. 24 in BMJ.

Pasquale Strazzullo, M.D., of the University of Naples Medical School in Italy, and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of 13 studies comprising 19 cohort samples totaling 177,025 participants. The studies ran for three and a half to 19 years.

There were more than 11,000 vascular events, and the risk was greater among those with a higher salt intake, resulting in a 23 percent higher pooled relative risk for stroke and 14 percent higher risk for cardiovascular disease, the researchers found. The larger the salt intake differential and the longer the study, the stronger the observed associations were.

"While the voluntary approach is the preferred choice for many governments, the 'regulatory' approach has advantages, sometimes being the most efficient, effective, and cost effective way of achieving public health targets," the authors write. "For population salt intake to approach the recommended targets within a reasonable time frame, an 'upstream' approach is now necessary alongside the traditional 'downstream' public health approach based on health promotion and behavioral changes."

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