An abstract recently presented at the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Epidemiology and Prevention and Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2013 Scientific Sessions reportedly linked high salt intake to 2.3 million heartrelated deaths per year worldwide. According to a March 21, 2013, AHA press release, researchers analyzed data on adult sodium intake from 247 surveys conducted between 1990 and 2010 “as part of the 2010 Global Burden of Diseases Study, an international collaborative study by 488 scientists from 303 institutions in 50 countries around the world.” They then performed “a meta-analysis of 107 randomized, prospective trials that measured how sodium affects blood pressure, and a meta-analysis of how these differences in blood pressure relate to the risk of developing cardiovascular disease compared with consuming no more than 1,000 mg per day of sodium, which the researchers defined as an optimal amount of sodium for adults.”

Based on their findings, researchers reported that nearly 40 percent of the 2.3 million deaths purportedly related to high salt intake “were premature,” with heart attacks causing 42 percent of the deaths and strokes 41 percent. In addition, the study noted that 84 percent of these deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries, ranking the United States 19th out of the 30 largest countries for salt-related mortality.

“National and global public health measures, such as comprehensive sodium reduction programs, could potentially save millions of lives,” said the study’s lead author Dariush Mozaffarian, who co-directs the Harvard School of Public Health’s Program in Cardiovascular Epidemiology.