Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Quit Smoking the Holistic Way
Holistic Treatment for Candida Infection
Should Your Child Be Seeing a Chiropractor?
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Safe Toys for Dogs
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Gene Plays Key Role in Clubfoot
Bone Density Predicts Chances of Breast Cancer
Fractures in Older Adults Up Death Risk
Adding Garlic Might Cut Cancer Risk
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
Older Caregivers Prone to Worse Sleep Patterns
Timing May Matter in Organ Donation Decisions
Caregiving May Lengthen Life
Vitamins Do Older Women Little Good
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
Fish Twice a Week Cuts Diabetics' Kidney Risks
Doctors Urged to Screen Diabetics for Sleep Apnea
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Myrrh May Lower High Cholesterol
Coffee or Tea Consumption May Lower Stroke Risk
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Ozone-Depleting Inhalers Being Phased Out
Old-Growth Forests Dying Off in U.S. West
Smog Tougher on the Obese
Antioxidant-Rich Diet May Protect Against Eye Disease
Glaucoma Associated With Reading Impairments in Elderly
Certain Diabetes Drugs May Pose Eye Risk
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Brisk Walk Can Help Leave Common Cold Behind
Occupational Therapy Plus Exercise Benefits Osteoarthritis
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Soluble Fiber, But Not Bran, Soothes Irritable Bowel
Retail Clinics Attracting Those Without Regular Doctors
Adults Need To Get Thier Food Facts Straight
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Too-Low Blood Pressure Can Also Bring Danger
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Arteries Age Twice as Fast in Smokers
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
Music May Temper Pain in Preemies
Backpack Safety Should Be on Back-to-School Lists
Combo Treatment Eases Wheezing in Babies
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Nighttime Urination Linked to Higher Death Rate Among Elderly
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Laughter Can Stimulate a Dull Appetite
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
Add your Article

Small Cuts in Salt Intake Spur Big Drops in Heart Trouble

Slashing salt intake by just 3 grams a day -- the equivalent of half a teaspoon -- could dramatically cut the incidence of heart disease and death in U.S. adults, researchers claim.

According to the authors of a study in the Jan. 20 online edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, the projected reductions would be similar to the benefits accruing from a 50 percent drop in the smoking rate and a 5 percent decline in body mass index among obese adults.

"There's no question that Americans eat too much salt," said Dr. Robert Eckel, a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine. "The idea of salt restriction and reducing blood pressure-related outcomes such as heart disease and stroke has been under consideration for some time. This group just simply took a map to it. The study certainly has scientific validity in terms of the importance of salt reduction for quality of life and longevity."

"Is everyone going to make the same change? Maybe not," said Karen Congro, director of the Wellness for Life Program at Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City. "But even a small change would reduce the total number of strokes and heart attacks over time because the situation is so dire. It would also be beneficial to immediate health."

U.S. health agencies recommend that most adults limit their daily consumption of salt to less than 5.8 grams (2,300 milligrams [mg] of sodium), with 3.7 grams a day preferable.

The American Heart Association urges the average American to eat less than 2,300 mg of sodium daily, but also notes that older people, blacks and people with high blood pressure need to go even lower -- to under 1,500 mg per day.

Despite these recommendations, the average daily intake of salt is on the increase.

In 2005-2006, the study authors stated, men in the United States took in an average of 10.4 grams of salt a day and women consumed 7.3 grams a day, far more than the suggested limit.

Excess salt can cause or worsen high blood pressure and raises the risk for cardiovascular disease.

This is not the first time Americans' favorite dietary supplement has hit the news in recent days.

The New York City Health Department, under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has announced that it is spearheading the "National Salt Reduction Initiative," which aims for a 20 percent reduction in salt consumption over five years.

The initiative is targeted primarily at restaurants and food manufacturers, which supply the gross majority of sodium in American diets.

Only about one-quarter of the salt in the U.S. diet comes directly from the kitchen table salt shaker.

The researchers, from the University of California, San Francisco, fed previously published data on heart disease in U.S. adults aged 35 to 84 into a computer model.

The model then predicted that the reduction of 3 grams of salt a day would cut the number of new cases of coronary heart disease each year by 60,000 to 120,000; stroke by 32,000 to 66,000 cases; and heart attacks by 54,000 to 99,000.

The annual number of deaths from any cause would be reduced by 44,000 to 92,000.

Limiting salt intake would be good for the fiscal diet as well, saving an estimated $10 billion to $24 billion in health care costs yearly, the paper found.

But if Americans cut even a mere 1 gram of salt from their meals and snacks every day, the effects would still be stunning, the authors stated: 20,000 to 40,000 fewer cases of coronary heart disease; 18,000 to 35,000 fewer heart attacks; 11,000 to 23,000 fewer strokes; and 15,000 to 32,000 fewer deaths.

Given that so much sodium comes from processed food, the authors urged a public health initiative to curb consumption.

SOURCES: Robert Eckel, M.D., professor, medicine, University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine; Karen Congro, R.D., director, Wellness for Life Program, The Brooklyn Hospital Center, New York City; Robert Frankel, M.D., director, interventional cardiology, Maimonides Medical Center, New York City; Jan. 20, 2010, New England Journal of Medicine, online Published on: January 20, 2010