Sunday, February 14, 2010

Research Highlights: Reduction in Salt Intake Could Lead to Major Decreases In Medical Expenditures and Coronary Deaths

Reduction in Salt Intake Could Lead to Major Decreases In Medical Expenditures and Coronary Deaths

Reviewed by: Caroline Melhado

The New England Journal of Medicine published a study stating a decrease in 3g of salt per day for every individual in the US could lead to a drastic decrease in the prevalence of Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), stroke, myocardial infraction and death from these causes.

The study used a computer model, CHD Policy Model, to study the prevalence and mortality of CHD of a variety of ages and demographics within the US. Using the data from multiple studies correlating the effect of salt on systolic blood pressure researchers were able to compare the impact of salt intake to a variety of health effects. They determined that a reduction in salt intake by 3 grams daily was a more effective way to prevent CHD, stroke and myocardial infraction than would a 50% reduction in smoking, a 5% decrease in body mass index and some treatments of hypertension. The study showed that a decrease in salt intake would affect both white, non-white, men and women.

The salt intake reduction of 3 grams would save an estimated $10 billion and $24 billion in yearly healthcare costs. According to the study it would also reduce the number of new cases of CHD by 60,000 to 120,000, stroke by 32,000 to 66,000, and myocardial infarction by 54,000 to 99,000 annually. This would lead to a reduction in deaths from these three sources by 44,000 to 92,000 a year. Researchers suggest that the cost-effectiveness of a state wide initiative to lower salt intake would save money in comparison to the high medical costs that the US’s salt dense culture creates.

Reference: January 20, 2010 (10.1056/NEJMoa0907355)
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