Cutting Canadians' salt intake in half would eliminate high blood pressure in one million people and save the health-care system hundreds of millions of dollars a year, researchers in British Columbia say.
In Tuesday's issue of the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, health sciences Prof. Michel Joffres of Simon Fraser University in Burnaby and his colleagues looked at the effects of dramatically cutting sodium consumption.
A quarter of adults, about five million Canadians, have hypertension, a major risk factor for stroke and heart attack. Hypertension also contributes to kidney failure and dementia, according to the World Health Organization.
People only need 200 milligrams of sodium a day, but on average, Canadians consume about 3,500 milligrams a day, not including the salt people add to their food, according to Statistics Canada.
Reducing sodium intake by an average of 1,840 milligrams a day would decrease hypertension by 20 per cent and save the cost of medication to control high blood pressure, the researchers said, based on their statistical analysis of data from clinical trials and health surveys of Canadians.
"It would reduce the high blood pressure by about one million people, and reduce [health-care costs] by more than $430 million a year," Joffres told CBC News.