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Salt - Reduced salt intake cuts heart disease risk

Reduced salt intake cuts heart disease risk

Reduced salt intake cuts heart disease risk

Older people could immediately cut the risk of suffering a stroke or a heart attack by reducing their salt intake, campaigners have claimed.

At least 26 million people in Britain regularly consume more than the recommended 6g of salt a day for an adult.

pressure group Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) has calculated over 60-year-olds could slash the chances of a stoke by up to 31% and a heart attack by 24% within days if they reduced their salt consumption to the 6g a day maximum.

Greater risks

It based the figures on papers published in two journals, one on a salt reduction trial in older people and the other looking at the relationship between blood pressure and cardiovascular risk. CASH plans to highlight the issue in its latest Salt Awareness Day tomorrow.

Salt manufacturers responded by claiming a recent study in Germany had shown a low-salt diet could be dangerous for older people.

One of the biggest complaints of health groups is that food manufacturers generally list sodium rather than salt on packets.
Shoppers need to multiply the sodium content by 2.5 to find the salt level.
A survey conducted by CASH of over 50-year-olds found that 63% were unaware that salt contains sodium or got the quantities wrong.
A further 69% of the 103 people questioned in September last year said the labelling of sodium was "incomprehensible"."
Graham MacGregor, chairman of CASH and a professor of cardiovascular medicine at St George's Hospital , London , said: "Older people will have dramatic reductions in strokes and heart attacks if they cut their salt intakes to the recommended levels.
"They are at greater risks and will have immediate and larger falls in blood pressure."
prof MacGregor analysed the results of 23 patients referred to the blood pressure unit at St George's with hypertension, all of whom claimed to be cutting down on salt or ate none at all.
Just three of the group actually consumed less than 6g a day and one man had a reading of 23.7g.

Food industry targets

The Food Standards Agency say men consume an average of 11g of salt a day - equivalent to almost two level teaspoons - and while women have around 8.1g.

Around 75% of salt in diets comes from processed food with bread, breakfast cereals and biscuits among the worst culprits.
peter Sherratt, general secretary of the Salt Manufacturers Association, said: "CASH has never acknowledged the fact that there are many experts who totally disagree with it on the suggested link between salt and blood pressure.
"This latest advice carries potential risk for older people. If they suffer from high blood pressure, they should consult their doctors rather than follow what CASH suggests is an 'immediate' cure.
Martin paterson, deputy director general of the Food and Drink Federation, said: " UK food and drink manufacturers are committed to encouraging consumers to improve their own health through a balanced diet and active lifestyle.
"The industry has already made great strides in reducing the amount of salt in a wide range of processed foods, published a guide to help consumers understand more about salt and is committed to encouraging all its members to provide 'salt equivalent' on labelling as well as the legally required sodium information."

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