Sodium Linked to More than 2 Million Deaths

Excessive sodium consumption may be the cause of more than 2 million heart attack-related deaths per year cites a new survey.

Presented at an American Heart Association Meeting, the research was based on data collected from the 2010 Global Burden of Diseases Study, which included data procured on sodium intake as well as on heart-related conditions and diseases. The researchers found that globally, 15 percent of all heart attack and stroke deaths in 2010 were caused by the overconsumption of salt.

Read more about preventing a stroke

While the researchers could only prove correlation and not causation, they did note that 1 million of the deaths—40 percent—were considered "premature," happening to people age 69 or younger.

The Ukraine and Russia topped the list with the highest number of salt-related deaths. Countries with the lowest were Qatar and Kenya. Eighty-four percent of the deaths occurred in low or middle-income countries, despite that overconsumption of sodium is widespread in high-income countries. The disparity doesn't necessarily mean high-income countries consume less salt, just that they have the ability to afford medical treatments and medications to treat high blood pressure and heart disease. reports that the study's lead author, Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian from Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public healthy said, "National and global public health measures, such as comprehensive sodium reduction programs, could potentially save millions of lives."

Sodium is crucial to the human diet, but daily consumption levels have risen dramatically over the last several decades, particularly in western countries where processed foods are more common. The World Health Organization recommends just 5 grams of sodium per day, but the average American often consumes 10 grams or more.

Read more about processed foods

Food manufacturers and restaurants have begun decreasing the amount of sodium in foods, but it's still easy to exceed recommended daily intake on a diet made up mainly of processed foods. Reduce the risk by preparing meals from scratch at home where monitoring salt intake is easier. And for those who love the taste of salt, weaning yourself down is a lot easier than you might think. The less salt you eat, the more sensitive you become to it, meaning you'll be satisfied with less.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image: NickHarris1

By Jill Ettinger| October 10, 2013
Categories:  Eat
Keywords:  Food and Nutrition

About the Author

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a freelance journalist and marketing specialist primarily focused on the organic and natural industries, she bridges her love for changing the food system with her lifelong passion for writing and connecting people in their shared values. You can connect with Jill on Twitter and Instagram.

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