Excess salt tied to 2.3m deaths globally

Last Updated 22 March 2013, 17:15 IST

Eating too much salt contributed to 2.3 million deaths from heart attacks, strokes and other heart-related diseases throughout the world in 2010, researchers, including an Indian-origin scientist, have found.

According to research presented at the American Heart Association’s meeting in New Orleans, among the 30 largest countries in the world, those with the highest death rates due to over consuming sodium were Ukraine with 2,109 deaths per million adults, Russia (1,803) and Egypt (836).

Among all countries, the three countries with the lowest death rates due to over consuming sodium were Qatar with 73 deaths per million adults, Kenya (78) and United Arab Emirates (134).

Researchers analysed 247 surveys of adult sodium intake, stratified by age, gender, region and country between 1990 and 2010 as part of the 2010 Global Burden of Diseases Study, an international collaborative study by 488 scientists from 303 institutions in 50 countries around the world.

They determined how the amount of sodium people were consuming was affecting their risk of cardiovascular disease.

They performed a meta-analysis of 107 randomised, prospective trials that measured how sodium affects blood pressure, and a meta-analysis of how these differences in blood pressure relate to the risk of developing cardiovascular disease compared with consuming no more than 1,000 mg per day of sodium, which the researchers defined as an optimal amount of sodium for adults.

Nearly 1 million of these deaths - 40 per cent of the total - were premature, occurring in people 69 years of age and younger. Sixty per cent of the deaths occurred in men and 40 per cent were in women. Heart attacks caused 42 per cent of the deaths and strokes 41 per cent.

The remainder resulted from other types of cardiovascular disease. Eighty-four per cent of these deaths due to eating too much sodium were in low and middle-income countries, rather than high-income countries.

“National and global public health measures, such as comprehensive sodium reduction programmes, could potentially save millions of lives,” said Dariush Mozaffarian, lead author of the study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health.

Co-authors of the study included Saman Fahimi, Gitanjali Singh, Renata Micha, Shahab Khatibzadeh, Goodarz Danaei, Majid Ezzati, Stephen Lim, and John Powles.

(Published 22 March 2013, 17:15 IST)

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