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WHO Report: Excessive Salt Intake Fuels Hypertension Surge

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BNN Correspondents
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WHO Report: Excessive Salt Intake Fuels Hypertension Surge

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released a report on the global impact of high blood pressure, an asymptomatic condition known as the 'silent killer'. The number of people with hypertension or under treatment for it has doubled from 650 million to 1.3 billion between 1990 and 2019. The WHO estimates that expanding screening studies could prevent up to 76 million deaths by 2050.

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The Silent Killer

Hypertension, which can manifest with symptoms such as headaches or dizziness, is closely linked to excessive salt intake, a factor that increases blood pressure and is associated with diseases such as stomach cancer and osteoporosis, among others. The WHO recommends a 30% reduction in salt intake by 2025 and promotes the SHAKE technical guide to help countries implement strategies to reduce salt consumption in the population.

Reducing Salt, Saving Lives

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A recent study presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions showed that reducing salt intake by a teaspoon a day could lower blood pressure as much as hypertension medication. The research saw a significant decrease in systolic blood pressure after following a low-sodium diet for a week. Excessive sodium intake contributes to heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, and other health problems. The WHO advises consuming less than 5 grams of salt per day, but in the Americas, consumption is up to triple this amount.

A Public Health Issue

The costs associated with hypertension represent a significant proportion of the GDP in several countries. The importance of salt reduction policies aimed at the food industry to address this public health issue is emphasized. The DASH sodium study conducted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) showed that both diets saw lower blood pressure in groups with lower daily salt intake. The greatest reduction in blood pressure was seen among those who followed the DASH diet with low salt intake.

Furthermore, a study examining the effectiveness of a general practice nurse (GPN) intervention to reduce blood pressure in adults with hypertension who are at high risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) showed significant between-group differences in mean systolic blood pressure (SBP) at six and 12 months. This provides evidence for GPNs to play a greater role in managing hypertension. The study was conducted between 2019 and 2021.

Natural ways to lower high blood pressure, such as increasing potassium intake, practicing slow breathing, and addressing deficiencies in potassium and vitamin D, can help lower blood pressure instantly. These methods also highlight the impact of lifestyle factors and nutritional deficiencies on blood pressure.

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