Reducing salt intake would eliminate hypertension in one million Canadians


    Study also suggests $430M annual savings in health costs

    OTTAWA, May 8 /CNW Telbec/ - Cutting the average Canadian's salt intake
by half would eliminate hypertension (high blood pressure) in one million
Canadians, double the number of Canadians with adequately controlled
hypertension, and save the health-care system $430 million a year, according
to a study released today by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian
Stroke Network, and published in the May issue of Canadian Journal of
Cardiology.
    The new Canadian study investigates for the first time the contribution
that excess consumption of dietary sodium is making to the development of
hypertension in Canadians.
    A quarter of adults, about five million Canadians, have hypertension and
more than 9 in 10 Canadians are estimated to develop high blood pressure if
they live an average lifespan of about 80 years.
    Hypertension expert Dr. Norm Campbell, one of the study authors, says
that "Canadians are unwittingly consuming far more than the Tolerable Upper
Intake Level of sodium. Reducing sodium additives to food is an excellent way
to significantly improve the health of Canadians and reduce health costs.
Politicians trying to address rising health care costs and sicker patients
need to pay attention."
    "Physician visits and laboratory costs would decrease by 6.5 per cent and
23-per-cent fewer treated hypertensives would require medications for control
of blood pressure" if Canadians reduced their sodium intake by an average of
1840 milligrams a day, the study says. "Changes to reduce sodium added to food
in processing may represent an opportunity to more rapidly improve public
health."
    "This analysis reveals that the hidden salt in processed foods is a major
cause of the high blood pressure that leads to stroke and coronary heart
disease," says Dr. Kevin Willis of the Canadian Stroke Network.
    A recent Statistics Canada survey found that adult Canadians consume on
average 3100 milligrams a day of sodium in the processed foods they eat -
about 35% more than the Tolerable Upper Intake level, and more than twice the
amount considered adequate for health. An additional 10 to 20 per cent of salt
is added in cooking and at the table.
    "The Heart and Stroke Foundation will continue to work with government,
industry and other health partners to reduce sodium in our foods, and to
remind Canadians of the link between nutrition and risk factors for heart
disease and stroke," says Stephen Samis, director of health policy for the
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. "We truly are what we eat."
    Hypertension is a major risk factor for both stroke and heart disease.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates hypertension to be the leading
risk factor for death in the world. According to WHO, reduction in dietary
sodium would be an important policy to improve global health. In Eating Well
with Canada's Food Guide, Health Canada recommends that Canadians reduce their
sodium intake.
    The Canadian Stroke Network and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
have called for increased awareness about the health risks associated with
sodium consumption. They are among participants in a national steering
committee that is working with the food industry to reduce sodium levels in
processed foods.

    The Heart and Stroke Foundation (www.heartandstroke.ca), a
volunteer-based health charity, leads in eliminating heart disease and stroke
and reducing their impact through the advancement of research and its
application, the promotion of healthy living, and advocacy.

    Specific tools and information on reducing and managing hypertension can
be found at www.heartandstroke.ca/bp.

    About the Canadian Stroke Network (www.canadianstrokenetwork.ca)

    The Canadian Stroke Network includes more than 100 of Canada's leading
scientists and clinicians from 24 universities who work collaboratively on
various aspects of stroke. The Network, which is headquartered at the
University of Ottawa, also includes partners from industry, the non-profit
sector, provincial and federal governments. The Canadian Stroke Network, one
of Canada's Networks of Centres of Excellence, is committed to reducing the
physical, social and economic impact of stroke on the lives of individual
Canadians and on society as a whole.



For further information: Jane-Diane Fraser, Heart and Stroke Foundation
of Canada, (613) 569-4361, ext 273, jfraser@hsf.ca; Cathy Campbell, Canadian
Stroke Network, (613) 562-5696, cathy@canadianstrokenetwork.ca