Salt Storm! Hypertension Canada Gathers Experts to Debate Canadian Sodium Limits

MONTREAL, Oct. 17, 2013 /CNW/ - Hypertension Canada is convening the nation's top high blood pressure experts at this year's Vascular 2013 Conference in Montreal, Quebec to debate the issue of what the appropriate recommended sodium intake levels should be for Canadians living with high blood pressure and those who are trying to prevent it.

The current CHEP recommendations ask Canadians aged 14 to 50 to limit their daily sodium consumption to 1,500 mg (about a quarter of a teaspoon), with even lower levels set for those aged 51 to 70 (1,300 mg) and aged 70 and over (1,200 mg).

The issue to be debated: to advise Canadians to aim for less than 2300mg of sodium per day. This would boost the "acceptable" level of sodium from one-quarter to a little less than a half a teaspoon a day.  The new recommendation would urge Canadians to cut their sodium intake by about a third, rather than the 56% reduction previously recommended.

"We expect there will be many opinions about changing the recommendation," stated Dr. Raj Padwal, Hypertension Canada spokesperson, CHEP co-chair and Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Alberta. "But that's what makes the process so important; by carefully sifting through the evidence and reviewing all sides of the issue, our aim is to provide the best recommendation possible to support the vascular health of all Canadians."

Each year, Hypertension Canada convenes its recommendations task force of the Canadian Hypertension Education Program (CHEP) to review new scientific evidence that may affect Canadians' prevention, treatment and management of high blood pressure.

CHEP then advises physicians on the new and/or revised updates.

"A systematic review of the literature found evidence that although excessive sodium consumption is unhealthy, there are few benefits - and even some risks - in encouraging everyone to reduce their intake to the bare minimum.  This needs to be carefully balanced with the inherent health dangers associated with the over-consumption of sodium which has a direct impact on developing high blood pressure," said Dr. Luc Trudeau, spokesperson, Hypertension Canada and Director of the Hypertension Clinic at the Jewish General Hospital, Montreal.

In reality, most Canadians exceed even the upper limit, consuming on average 3,400 mg/day.

"The debate over the years on the effect of sodium on health at the population level will always be at the forefront as more evidence emerges," says Hypertension Canada spokesperson, Dr. Norm Campbell.  "This truly reflects the scientific process - be willing to revise your understanding as new evidence comes to light."

But there is one thing all the experts can agree on: we consume too much sodium and much of it comes from processed foods. "Only about 11% of the sodium Canadians consume comes from salt added during cooking or at the table," said Ottawa-based dietitian Dr. Debra Reid.  "Three-quarters comes from processed, restaurant and fast foods.  Involving the food manufacturing and food service and restaurant industries remains a priority for Hypertension Canada if we ever hope to reduce this country's sodium intake levels."

"By gathering our high level experts, we hope to arrive at the best answer to this issue.  The goals are to accurately reflect the science of high blood pressure prevention and management," said Dr. Luc Poirier, spokesperson, Hypertension Canada and CHEP co-chair.

Canadians can visit for useful tips on reducing sodium intake.

The new recommendation will be voted upon after the meeting's conclusion and if passed, will be made effective January 2014.

About CHEP
The Canadian Hypertension Education Program (CHEP) is Hypertension Canada's knowledge translation program that targets healthcare professionals in clinical and community settings. CHEP provides annually updated standardized recommendations and clinical practice recommendations to detect, treat and control hypertension. The annual, evidence-based recommendations are developed through intense discussion of the clinical implications via a systematic review of the literature followed by critical appraisals of all the new clinical research.

About Hypertension Canada
Hypertension Canada is the country's authoritative voice on the management of high blood pressure. Committed to delivering positive benefits to the 7.4 million Canadians living with high blood pressure on a daily basis, Hypertension Canada is an influential collaboration of researchers, clinicians, and policy makers dedicated to advancing health through the prevention and control of high blood pressure and its complications.


SOURCE: Hypertension Canada

For further information:

Elissa Freeman
For Hypertension Canada
Cell: 416.565.5605

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