The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has urged Caribbean nationals and others in the Americas to decrease salt intake to help reduce hypertension – the leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
“Salt reduction is recognized as the most cost-effective intervention for population-based prevention of hypertension, and it is one of the WHO (World Health Organization) best buys,” said PAHO’s Dominican-born Director, Dr Carissa F. Etienne, last week.
Stating that reducing salt consumption could save 8.5 million lives globally over 10 years, PAHO urged more countries to launch national salt reduction initiatives to prevent hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
“The cardiovascular benefits of reduced salt intake are on par with the benefits of population-wide reductions in tobacco use, obesity, and cholesterol levels,” Etienne added.
PAHO said a dozen countries in the Americas, including the Caribbean, have launched salt-reduction campaigns as part of PAHO’s regional ‘Salt-Smart Americas’ initiative. The initiative is based on research showing that overconsumption of dietary salt contributes to high blood pressure, which is the leading risk factor for death and the second-leading risk factor for disability worldwide.
Between one-fifth and one-third of adults in the Americas suffer from high blood pressure.
PAHO stated that reducing salt consumption by just one gramme per day per capita over 10 years would be more cost-effective than using medications to lower blood pressure in all people with hypertension.