Global Sodium Intake Exceeded Recommendations

Cardiovascular death from heart disease or stroke tied to excessive sodium consumption

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Salt is a pantry staple and an ingredient present in many recipes. But too much of the seasoning can lead to high blood pressure and the potential for other serious heart conditions.

A new international study found that almost all adults were eating more salt than recommended.

That excessive consumption caused more than a million heart-related deaths in 2010, according to the new research.

"Talk to your cardiologist about a heart-healthy diet."

The study was written by Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Medford, MA, and colleagues.

The researchers collected data from 187 countries, comparing sodium, or salt, intake with death from heart-related illnesses like heart disease and strokeThey included data from 205 surveys and global nutrition data, tracking about three-quarters of the world’s adult population.

The study authors calculated sodium intake by country, age, and sex and then combined those measures with global rates of cardiovascular disease.

The World Health Organization recommended a daily sodium intake of 2 grams.

Dr. Mozaffarian and colleagues found average daily sodium consumption in 2010 to be 3.95 grams. The lowest levels, 2.18 grams per day, came from sub-Saharan Africa, while the highest levels, 5.51 grams per day, were in Central Asia.

Globally, 99.2 percent of adults exceeded the recommended daily amount of salt.

Using their mathematical model, the authors concluded that eating too much salt caused 1.65 million heart-related deaths in 2010. Of those deaths, 41.7 percent were due to heart disease, 41.6 percent to stroke and the rest to other heart-related conditions.

"High sodium intake is known to increase blood pressure, a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases including heart disease and stroke," Dr. Mozaffarian said in a press release.

"These 1.65 million deaths represent nearly one in 10 of all deaths from cardiovascular causes worldwide. No world region and few countries were spared. These new findings inform the need for strong policies to reduce dietary sodium in the United States and across the world."

The study was published online Aug. 14 by the peer-reviewed New England Journal of Medicine.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provided funding.

Review Date: 
August 11, 2014
Last Updated:
August 15, 2014