A new study published in the British Medical Journal. says that using a potassium-rich alternative of table salt in China can prevent cardiovascular deaths in adults. There are nearly half a million deaths caused by cardiac diseases every year. Finding a simple solution to prevent it is easier to follow and practical for everyone.
This new study talks about how using salt with blood pressure lowering effects would save thousands of people from cardiovascular death. Among others, stroke and heart attack account for most of these deaths. This simple salt replacement would also save from nearly 743,000 non-fatal cardiovascular deaths that take place every year.
Dr. Jason Wu is one of the co-authors of this study. He is the Nutrition Science program head at The George Institute. In this new study, he says that a potassium-rich salt alternative improves the blood lowering effect. Sodium based salt, on the other side, has a blood pressure increasing effect.
In general, the potassium intake in China is extremely low and sodium take is higher. It is even higher than the daily recommended dose which puts the health of its users at risk.
He shared that;
“Salt substitution is, therefore, a promising strategy to reduce blood pressure and related diseases like CVD and CKD in China, where over two million deaths were attributed to elevated blood pressure in 2015. Our findings suggest that a nationwide intervention to encourage the use of potassium-enriched salt substitutes could prevent nearly one in nine CVD deaths in China.”
This study considered the benefits of potassium and its effects on lowering high blood pressure at the same time to prevent people from CKD.
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Matti Marklund from Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University is the lead author and principal investigator of this research. He said that the risk of high potassium-based salt in a Chinese population at the risk of CKD is a neglected area because most of the people don’t even know about their condition.
He said this new study model suggests using this type of alternative which benefits the overall Chinese population. And for others, who are not a risk of heart diseases, taking potassium salt has substantial benefits for them.
There are nearly 17.2 million people in China who are living with CKD. By substituting their table salt with potassium salt, the risk of at least 32,000 deaths could be prevented. However, for nearly 11,000 people, the high potassium intake and blood level might cause death as well. It makes an overall 21,000 deaths estimate.
Dr. Marklund suggests that this new finding is beneficial for those who are using sodium-based salt. But for others, who have an optimum potassium consumption per day, the high potassium intake might be equally dangerous.
He suggests using approaches like screening tests for people suspecting CKD and monitoring potassium levels in everyone especially the diagnosed patients. This way the risks of salt intake could be reduced to zero.
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Eating food with high salt affects blood pressure directly by elevating it. This factor contributes to early death caused by heart attack or a stroke, mostly. It’s not just limited to China but the whole world’s population is at risk, as the excessive salt intake kills nearly three million people every year.
In the Chinese population, the daily salt intake is more than double than of the ideal salt consumption issued by WHO. More than half of China’s population between 35 years to 75 years of age are suffering from hypertension. Among these, nearly 30% of people experience fatal heart strokes due to high sodium intake.
This study could initiate a nationwide change in dietary habits by replacing common table salt with a low-sodium salt or potassium salt. In addition to this, the researchers demand frequent cardiovascular screening tests especially for the people in their late middle ages.