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High Sodium Consumption Responsible For Around 1.65 Million Global Cardiovascular Deaths Each Year

Update Date: Aug 18, 2014 10:26 AM EDT

Around 1.6 million cardiovascular-related deaths per year can be linked to high sodium consumption, according a new analysis evaluating populations across 187 countries. 

World Health Organization recommends 2.0g sodium 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, M.D., Dr.P.H., dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, who led the research while at the Harvard School of Public Health, in the press release. "However, the effects of excess sodium intake on cardiovascular diseases globally by age, sex, and nation had not been well established."

Researchers analyzed existing data from 205 surveys of sodium intake in countries that represented nearly three-quarters of the world's adult population.

Effects of sodium on blood pressure and of blood pressure on cardiovascular diseases were determined separately in a new pooled meta-analyses which included differences by age and race, the press release said. 

Researchers calculated the average level of global sodium consumption in 2010 to be 3.95g per day, nearly twice the 2.0g recommended by WHO.

"These 1.65 million deaths represent nearly one in 10 of all deaths from cardiovascular causes worldwide. No world region and few countries were spared," added Mozaffarian, who chairs the Global Burden of Diseases, Nutrition, and Chronic Disease Expert Group, an international team of more than 100 scientists studying the effects of nutrition on health and who contributed to this effort. "These new findings inform the need for strong policies to reduce dietary sodium in the United States and across the world."

The analysis has been published in the August 14 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. 

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