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Slight Cut in Salt Intake Would Mean Fewer Heart Attacks, Deaths
Date:3/11/2009

Just 1 less gram a day could produce dramatic results, study says,,,,

WEDNESDAY, March 11 (HealthDay News) -- If Americans cut just one gram of salt from their daily diet, there would be 250,000 fewer new cases of heart disease and more than 200,000 fewer deaths over a decade, a new study suggests.

And, though doctors have long known that too much salt is linked with high blood pressure and heart disease, Americans are using 50 percent more salt than they did in the 1970s -- and blood pressure rates have risen by almost the same percentage, the study authors said.

"We found that very small reductions in salt intake would have very large health benefits in the U.S. population," said lead researcher Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, an assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco.

"We found that everyone in the U.S. would benefit, but the benefits would be particularly great for African-Americans, who are more likely to have high blood pressure and whose blood pressure is more likely to be sensitive to salt," she said.

Currently, Americans consume 9 grams to 12 grams of salt a day, with much of it coming from processed foods. This total is far more salt than is recommended by many health organizations, which say you should only have 5 grams to 6 grams a day, Bibbins-Domingo said.

Bibbins-Domingo was to present the findings Wednesday at the American Heart Association's Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention annual conference, in Palm Harbor, Fla.

For the study, the researchers used a computer simulation called the Coronary Heart Disease Policy Model to estimate the impact of reducing salt by 0 grams to 6 grams on heart disease and deaths from heart disease.

The model said that, between 2010 and 2019, there could be more than 800,000 "life years" saved for every gram of salt removed from the diet. If 6 grams a day were cut
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