Reducing Dietary Salt Could Substantially Impact Health

Cutting out 3 g per day may also lead to health cost savings of up to $24 billion yearly
By Andrea Mongler
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Even modest reductions in Americans' dietary salt could substantially reduce cardiovascular events, including death, myocardial infarction and stroke, and should be a public health goal, according to a study published online Jan. 20 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, M.D., of the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues used the Coronary Heart Disease Policy Model to quantify the effects of population-wide reductions in dietary salt of up to 3 g (1200 mg of sodium) per day.

The researchers found that a 3-g-per-day reduction in dietary salt would reduce the yearly number of new coronary heart disease cases by 60,000 to 120,000, myocardial infarction by 54,000 to 99,000, stroke by 32,000 to 66,000, and deaths from any cause by 44,000 to 92,000. They found that the cardiovascular benefits of reduced salt intake would be similar to the population-wide benefits of reduced obesity, tobacco use, and cholesterol. In addition, they write that a regulatory intervention to reduce salt intake by 3 g per day would save 194,000 to 392,000 quality-adjusted life-years and $10 billion to $24 billion in health care costs annually.

"Such an intervention would be cost-saving even if only a modest reduction of 1 g per day were achieved gradually between 2010 and 2019 and would be more cost-effective than using medications to lower blood pressure in all persons with hypertension," the authors write.

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