According to a recent report published in The New England Journal of Medicine, more than 1.6 million cardiovascular-related deaths per year can be attributed to sodium consumption above the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 2.0g (2,000mg) per day.
“High sodium intake is known to increase blood pressure, a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases including heart disease and stroke,” said first and corresponding author Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH. “However, the effects of excess sodium intake on cardiovascular diseases globally by age, sex, and nation had not been well established.”
The researchers found the average level of global sodium consumption in 2010 to be 3.95g per day, nearly double the 2.0g recommended by the World Health Organization, according to Science Daily.
Mozaffarian said these 1.65 million deaths represent nearly one in 10 of all deaths from cardiovascular causes worldwide. “These new findings inform the need for strong policies to reduce dietary sodium in the United States and across the world,” he said.
In the United States, average daily sodium intake was 3.6g, 80 percent higher than the amount recommended by the World Health Organization, reported Science Daily, adding researchers found that nearly 58,000 cardiovascular deaths each year in the United States could be attributed to daily sodium consumption greater than 2.0g. Sodium intake and corresponding health burdens were even higher in many developing countries.
“We found that four out of five global deaths attributable to higher than recommended sodium intake occurred in middle- and low-income countries,” added John Powles, MB, BS, last author. “Programs to reduce sodium intake could provide a practical and cost effective means for reducing premature deaths in adults around the world.”
Science daily reported that the authors acknowledge their results utilize estimates based on urine samples, which may underestimate true sodium intakes. Additionally, some countries lacked data on sodium consumption, which was estimated based on other nutritional information; and, because the study focuses on cardiovascular deaths, the findings may not reflect the full health impact of sodium intake, which is also linked to higher risk of nonfatal cardiovascular diseases, kidney disease and stomach cancer, the second most-deadly cancer worldwide.
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