Two silent killers a deadly combination - Shake the salt habit and reap the heart health benefits



    OTTAWA, May 26 /CNW Telbec/ - Salt is the silent but potentially deadly
sidekick to high blood pressure, says the Heart and Stroke Foundation (HSF).
    More than 85 per cent of men and over 60 per cent of women ages 19 to 70
consume more than the maximum daily recommended sodium levels. "Salt hidden in
our foods silently contributes to high blood pressure," says Dr. Sheldon Tobe,
Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson. "Be a savvy eater. Read food labels,
especially for processed and prepackaged foods. You may be shocked to see how
much hidden salt you eat every day."
    High blood pressure - known as the silent killer due to its lack of
symptoms - is the number one risk factor for stroke and a major risk factor
for heart disease. Salt consumption contributes significantly to high blood
pressure.
    High blood pressure is linked to a number of other health conditions,
including overweight and obesity, a growing health problem for Canadians.
Almost a third of Canadians living with high blood pressure would have normal
blood pressure if they consumed less sodium.
    Many Canadians can take action to control their high blood pressure by
reducing their sodium intake, regularly monitoring their blood pressure and
keeping it under control.
    "It is vital that Canadians reduce their salt intake," says Dr. Arun
Chockalingam, secretary general of the World Hypertension League (WHL). "A
Canadian Journal of Cardiology article published last year found that up to
17,000 fewer Canadians would have a stroke, heart attack or suffer from heart
failure every year if they consumed the recommended optimal daily level of
dietary sodium."
    In addition to reducing sodium in their diets, people who have been
diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure) should be especially
vigilant in monitoring their blood pressure. But just because you haven't been
diagnosed with high blood pressure does not mean you're not at risk.
    According to recent research published in the Canadian Journal of
Cardiology, excess dietary sodium causes high blood in at least one million
Canadians, resulting in $430 million a year in direct health-care costs
    "If salt intake was reduced by half it would save approximately 2.5
million people a year dying unnecessarily of strokes, heart attacks and
chronic kidney diseases worldwide," says Dr. Chockalingam.
    In December 2007, the Heart and Stroke Foundation was one of 17 leading
health organizations in Canada to endorse a National Sodium Policy Statement
developed by Blood Pressure Canada with the goal of reducing the daily sodium
consumption of adult Canadians to between 1,200 and 2,300 mg by January 2020.
Statistics Canada estimates the average Canadian consumes more than 3,100 mg
of sodium daily, making the goal of between 1,200 mg and 2,300 mg a
significant reduction.
    "People can often control high blood pressure by lifestyle changes," says
Dr. Tobe. "Even if you don't have high blood pressure, you can help prevent
its onset by following a healthy diet and cutting the salt habit."
    The Heart and Stroke Foundation's Health Check program is committed to
playing a role in helping Canadians reach these goals by working with food
companies to reduce the sodium in our food supply by reducing the sodium
criteria for the program.
    "Be proactive with your health," says Dr. Chockalingam. "Take simple
steps to reduce the level of salt in your diet such as eating fewer processed,
pre-packaged foods, choosing reduced sodium foods and using citrus fruit,
herbs and spices instead of salt to enhance flavour. Your heart will reap the
rewards."
    Canadians can get their free My Heart&Stroke Blood Pressure Action
Plan(TM) at www.heartandstroke.ca/bp .
    World Hypertension Day will be launched on Parliament Hill on Tuesday,
May 26 by Senator Wilbert Keon and include a blood pressure measurement clinic
for dignitaries.

    World Hypertension Day is May 17. It has been established to highlight
the serious medical complications of this condition and to communicate to the
public information on prevention, detection, and treatment. The theme of the
international event is "Sodium and High Blood Pressure: Two Silent Killers."
For more information, visit www.worldhypertensionleague.org .

    The World Hypertension League (WHL) is a federation of leagues,
societies, and other national bodies devoted to promote the detection,
control, and prevention of arterial hypertension. The WHL member organizations
promote the exchange of information and offer internationally applicable
methods and programs for hypertension control. Its goal is to bring together
and stimulate organizations committed to the control of hypertension. The WHL
is a division of the International Society of Hypertension (ISH), and is in
official relations with the World Health Organization (WHO).

    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.

    My Heart&Stroke Blood Pressure Action Plan(TM) offers realistic
strategies and on-going support to help individuals prevent and control high
blood pressure. Canadians can get a free, confidential risk assessment and
action plan by going to www.heartandstroke.ca/bp .

    For information on the Foundation's Health Check(TM) food information
program, with over 1,000 products, see www.healthcheck.org .




For further information:

For further information: Eileen Melnick McCarthy, Heart and Stroke
Foundation, (613) 569-4361 ext 318, emelnick@hsf.ca


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