Cutting out dietary sodium could avert a quarter-million to a half-million deaths over the next decade, a modeling study found.
Researchers modeled the effect of reducing sodium over the next 10 years upon direct effects on cardiovascular disease mortality, upon indirect effects of blood pressure changes as observed in randomized controlled trials of antihypertension medications, and upon outcomes of epidemiological studies.
They then applied three models: a gradual uniform reduction totaling 40% over 10 years; an immediate 40% reduction in sodium consumption to a population-wide mean of 2,200 mg/d for 10 years, and an immediate reduction to 1,500 mg sodium per day for 10 years.
Results appeared online Feb. 11 at Hypertension.
Mean effects across the models ranged from 280,000 to 500,000 deaths averted, if small steady reductions in dietary sodium (averaging just over 5% of a teaspoon of salt per person per day) could be achieved annually.
While the greatest effect was modeled from immediate reductions--0.7 to 1.2 million deaths averted in the next decade--researchers wrote, "[S]uch a large reduction in daily sodium intake across the population would be difficult to achieve rapidly, both because of the relatively high current starting levels of consumption and because most of the sodium consumed is already added to the packaged, processed, and prepared foods that are common in the U.S. diet."