CDC's Hypertension Report Underestimated?

American Heart Association suggests high blood pressure estimate is conservative

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Recently a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported suggested 48 percent of Americans are in a group that should limit daily sodium intake. American Heart Association officials suggest that is understated.

Sodium, mostly in the form of table salt and often in packaged foods, has been linked to high blood pressure. American Heart Association officials advise that certain high risk populations with hypertension or at risk for developing it limit their daily sodium intake to 1500 mg.

"Ask your doctor about sodium intake of 1500 mg daily."

The category of high risk individuals includes African-Americans, adults over the age of 50, and those with hypertension, diabetes, or a chronic disease. Of those, 98 percent are exceeding the suggested daily sodium limit.

Dr. Gordon Tomaselli, president of the American Heart Association, and the Michel Mirowski, M.D., professor of cardiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said that the CDC's estimate of how many fall into the high risk category is "too conservative."

He noted that the direct and indirect costs of heart disease already is at $444 billion annually and steadily increasing. High blood pressure, he said, is the largest driver of those costs, and suggestion of the low number at risk doesn't go far enough in addressing the burden of excessive salt consumption.

A 2009 CDC report suggested that about 70 percent of U.S. adults should limit sodium consumption. Additional research was not cited as a reason for the drop.

In an unpublished statement, the American Heart Association suggested that all Americans should consume less than 1500 mg of sodium daily unless informed by a doctor that it isn't applicable. As many as 90 percent of the population will develop hypertension with age.

Though not everyone is able to prevent high blood pressure, consuming less sodium could help some prevent it, while others may benefit from taking fewer drugs once they develop it.

According to American Heart Association estimates, if the majority of Americans adhered to a daily sodium limit of 1500 mg, an estimated $24 billion in healthcare costs could be saved each year.

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Review Date: 
October 25, 2011
Last Updated:
October 29, 2011