A new study by scientists from the Queen Mary University of London has found that reducing daily salt intake by just 1 gram could prevent almost 9 million cases of heart disease and strokes by 2030.
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a common condition in which the long-term force of blood against the walls of the arteries is high enough to eventually cause health problems such as heart disease.
Blood pressure is given in two numbers: systolic blood pressure, which is the pressure caused by your heart contracting and pushing out blood, and diastolic blood pressure, which is the pressure when your heart relaxes and fills with blood.
Table salt, or dietary salt, is made from two chemical elements: sodium and chloride. It is the sodium component that has been linked to health problems, particularly high blood pressure.
Many studies have shown that a higher salt intake leads to higher blood pressure, while reducing salt intake lowers blood pressure.
In China, salt intake is among the highest in the world, with an average daily intake of about 11 grams. Heart disease accounts for 40% of deaths in China.
The researchers aimed to examine the possible impact of reducing salt intake on heart disease events in China by focusing on the effect of salt reduction on systolic blood pressure.
After reviewing previous research, the team found that reducing salt intake in China by just 1 gram per day could lower the risk of ischaemic heart disease by approximately 4% and the risk of stroke by around 6%.
If this reduced salt level can be sustained until 2030, approximately 9 million heart disease events could be prevented, of which around 4 million would lead to death.
The team also found that greater and gradual reductions in salt intake, to achieve the World Health Organization’s target of a 30% reduction by 2025 or the Chinese government’s target of less than or equal to 5 grams per day by 2030, could prevent 1.5 to 2 times more cardiovascular disease events and deaths.
They showed that if the prolonged effect of salt reduction over several years were estimated, heart disease and death risk would be reduced by 25% or more.
The researchers suggest that reducing high salt intake levels in China could result in large reductions in heart disease.
A small reduction of just 1 gram per day could prevent approximately 9 million heart disease events by 2030. Urgent action must be taken to reduce salt intake in China.
Maintaining a healthy diet can help prevent high blood pressure. Some dietary changes that can help prevent high blood pressure include:
Reduce salt intake: Sodium is the main culprit behind high blood pressure, so reducing your salt intake is crucial. Limit your intake to no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day, which is about 1 teaspoon of salt.
Increase potassium intake: Potassium can help reduce the effects of sodium on blood pressure. Foods rich in potassium include fruits and vegetables, such as bananas, avocados, spinach, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.
Eat a balanced diet: Eat a diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats.
Limit alcohol intake: Drinking too much alcohol can increase blood pressure. Men should have no more than two drinks per day, and women should have no more than one drink per day.
Reduce caffeine intake: Caffeine can cause a temporary increase in blood pressure, so it is important to limit your caffeine intake.
Eat less processed food: Processed foods tend to be high in salt, so it is important to limit your intake of these foods.
Watch your portion sizes: Eating too much can lead to weight gain, which can increase your risk of high blood pressure.
By making these dietary changes, you can help prevent high blood pressure and improve your overall health.
If you care about heart disease, please read studies about a big cause of heart failure, and common blood test could advance heart failure treatment.
For more information about health, please see recent studies that Vitamin D deficiency can increase heart disease risk, and results showing Zinc and vitamin B6 linked to lower death risk in heart disease.
The research was published in BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health and conducted by Monique Tan et al.
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