Monday, November 15, 2010

How salt is associated with stroke and heart disease

Sodium intake has a direct and independent impact on the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease, according to a meta-analysis published online ahead of print in the British Medical Journal.

According to the American Heart Association, you can help patients reduce salt intake by recommending that they:

• Compare the sodium content of similar products (e.g., different brands of tomato sauce) and choose products with less salt

• Choose versions of processed foods, including cereals and baked goods, that are reduced in salt

• Limit condiments (e.g., soy sauce, ketchup).

Researchers out of the University of Naples conducted a meta-analysis of 19 independent cohort samples taken from 13 studies exploring the relationship between salt intake and cardiovascular disease. The cohorts comprised 177,025 participants who were followed-up for 3.5 to 19 years and who experienced over 11,000 vascular events.

Higher salt intake was associated with a greater risk of stroke, with a pooled relative risk (RR) of 1.23, as well as a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, with a pooled RR of 1.14. The observed associations increased with larger differences in sodium intake and a longer duration of follow-up. The authors estimate that reducing daily salt intake by as little as 5 g at the population level could avert 1.25 million deaths from stroke and nearly three million deaths from cardiovascular disease annually.

Today’s research provides strong evidence for worldwide efforts to reduce sodium intake.


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