Over-abundant salt intake was a factor in nearly 2.3 million
deaths from heart attacks, strokes and other heart-related causes that occurred
worldwide in 2010, according to a new study. That number represents 15% of all heart-related deaths that
year, the researchers said.
Nearly 1 million deaths (40%) caused by eating too much salt
were considered premature, occurring in people aged 69 and younger, the study
found. 60% of the deaths were in men.
The United States ranked 19th out of the 30 largest
countries, with 429 deaths per million adults caused by eating too much salt.
That works out to one in 10 of all heart-related deaths in the United States,
the study authors noted.
Heart attacks and strokes
Heart attacks caused 42% of the deaths worldwide, while
strokes caused 41%. The rest of the deaths were caused by other types of
cardiovascular disease. 84% of the deaths were in low- and
middle-income countries. (The United States is considered a high-income
Among the 30 largest countries, those with the highest death
rates due to excess salt consumption per million adults were: Ukraine, 2 109;
Russia, 1 803; and Egypt, 836.
Among all countries, those with the lowest death rates
related to salt consumption per million adults were: Qatar, 73; Kenya, 78; and
United Arab Emirates, 134.
"National and global public health measures, such as
comprehensive sodium reduction programs, could potentially save millions of
lives," lead author Dr Dariush Mozaffarian, an associate professor of
medicine and epidemiology at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of
Public Health, said in an AHA news release.
Although the study found an association between high salt
intake and higher risk of death, it did not prove a cause-and-effect
The US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute outlines
how to reduce sodium in your diet.
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