A study analyzing populations across 187 countries found that high sodium intake, of more than 2,000 mg per day, caused 1.6 million cardiovascular-related deaths per year. The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine and reveals the extent of the damage that high sodium (salt) intake can cause to the human body.
The study consisted of analyzing existing data from 205 surveys of sodium intake. The impact of sodium consumption on blood pressure and corresponding cardiovascular disease was determined separately in a pooled meta-analyses, differentiated by age and race.
The research 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. On average the level of global sodium consumption in 2010 was 3.95g per day, nearly double the 2.0g recommended by the World Health Organization. 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 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.
“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.”
In the United States, average daily sodium intake was 80 percent higher than the amount recommended by the World Health Organization. Nearly 58,000 cardiovascular deaths each year in the United States were attributed to daily sodium consumption greater than 2.0g.
Dariush Mozaffarian, Saman Fahimi, Gitanjali M. Singh, Renata Micha, Shahab Khatibzadeh, Rebecca E. Engell, Stephen Lim, Goodarz Danaei, Majid Ezzati, John Powles. Global Sodium Consumption and Death from Cardiovascular Causes. New England Journal of Medicine, 2014; 371 (7): 624 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1304127
Martin O’Donnell, Andrew Mente, Sumathy Rangarajan, Matthew J. McQueen, Xingyu Wang, Lisheng Liu, Hou Yan, Shun Fu Lee, Prem Mony, Anitha Devanath, Annika Rosengren, Patricio Lopez-Jaramillo, Rafael Diaz, Alvaro Avezum, Fernando Lanas, Khalid Yusoff, Romaina Iqbal, Rafal Ilow, Noushin Mohammadifard, Sadi Gulec, Afzal Hussein Yusufali, Lanthe Kruger, Rita Yusuf, Jephat Chifamba, Conrad Kabali, Gilles Dagenais, Scott A. Lear, Koon Teo, Salim Yusuf. Urinary Sodium and Potassium Excretion, Mortality, and Cardiovascular Events. New England Journal of Medicine, 2014; 371 (7): 612 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1311889