Salt targets could reduce cardiovascular disease burden and health expenditures

From Cardiology News, 6 May 2014:

MELBOURNE – Reducing salt intake to less than 5 g/day could reduce deaths from cardiovascular disease by 11% and significantly decrease out-of-pocket health expenditures, particularly among economically vulnerable middle-income households, according to a modeling study of South Africa’s salt reduction policy.

The study used surveys and epidemiological data to calculate the potential health and economic impacts of salt targets set by the South African government in 2013, which employs mandatory maximum levels in common processed foods, and public education campaigns to reduce daily salt intake below 5 g by 2020.

According to data presented at the World Congress of Cardiology 2014, achieving this goal would result in an 11% reduction in cardiovascular disease, including approximately 5,600 fewer deaths and 23,000 fewer new cases of cardiovascular disease each year.

“In terms of equity, we found that the health impact was fairly evenly distributed across different socioeconomic groups, which speaks a lot to the myth that cardiovascular diseases are diseases of affluence,” said Dr. David Watkins, a hospitalist and physician-researcher at the University of Washington and University of Cape Town.

The modeling, based on a cohort of South African adults, also found the reduction in salt consumption was associated with a $51 million/year reduction in government health subsidies, and a $4 million reduction in individual out-of-pocket expenses, particularly in the middle three income quintiles. Read more.

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