Posted on Sep 29, 2014, 6 a.m.
Over 1.6 million cardiovascular-related deaths per year can be attributed to sodium consumption above the World Health Organization's recommendation of 2 gm per day.
High sodium intake increases blood pressure, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and Tufts University (Massachusetts, USA), researchers confirm the effects of sodium intake on cardiovascular deaths worldwide. Dariush Mozaffarian and colleagues analyzed data collected by 205 surveys of sodium intake in countries representing nearly three-quarters of the world's adult population. Merging that data with other global nutrition data, the team calculated sodium intakes worldwide by country, age, and sex. Effects of sodium on blood pressure and of blood pressure on cardiovascular diseases were determined separately in new pooled meta-analyses, including differences by age and race. These findings were combined with current rates of cardiovascular diseases around the world to estimate the numbers of cardiovascular deaths attributable to sodium consumption above 2.0g per day. 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 (WHO). All regions of the world were above recommended levels, with regional averages ranging from 2.18g per day in sub-Saharan Africa to 5.51g per day in Central Asia. In their meta-analysis of controlled intervention studies, the researchers found that reduced sodium intake lowered blood pressure in all adults, with the largest effects identified among older individuals, blacks, and those with pre-existing high blood pressure. In the United States, average daily sodium intake was 3.6g, 80% higher than the WHO recommendations. Notably, the study authors point out that: “Four of every 5 deaths (84.3%) occurred in low- and middle-income countries, and 2 of every 5 deaths (40.4%) were premature (before 70 years of age)."
Mozaffarian D, Fahimi S, Singh GM, Micha R, Khatibzadeh S, Engell RE, Lim S, Danaei G, Ezzati M, Powles J; Global Burden of Diseases Nutrition and Chronic Diseases Expert Group. “Global sodium consumption and death from cardiovascular causes.” N Engl J Med. 2014 Aug 14;371(7):624-34.