The artery on the left is healthy. The image on the right shows the damage high blood pressure can do to the artery wall. The wall has thickened to handle the increased pressure – making it harder work for the heart to pump blood around the body.
High blood pressure affects over 1.5 billion people around the world.
Salt – Is it to Blame?
There is a positive link between salt consumption and high blood pressure akin to that between smoking and cancer.
• A study in 10,400 patients, across 32 different countries, found that excess salt in the diet directly increases a patient’s systolic blood pressure - the force placed on your arteries as the heart pumps blood around the body.
• Excess salt intake raises blood pressure levels, regardless of whether that person already suffers from high blood pressure.
• Sodium in salt causes the body to retain more water, with excess levels resulting in increased blood pressure9. To cope with the added pressure, blood vessels harden and thicken - putting greater stress on the heart to pump blood through constricted arteries.
• Excess salt consumption is more likely to trigger high blood pressure in the elderly, diabetes sufferers, the obese and those belonging to the black community7.
Prevention is the Key
• In many countries the daily salt intake is as high as 12g, over double the amount deemed acceptable by the World Health Organization.
• Cutting down on our salt consumption dramatically reduces the chances of developing high blood pressure and its complications such as heart failure and stroke.
• Reducing our salt intake by 6g per day would cut stroke deaths by 23%, and ischemic heart disease deaths by 16%.
• By halving our salt intake we could prevent approximately 2.6 million stroke and heart attack related deaths each year.
World Hypertension Day
May 17 (Sunday) is World Hypertension Day. The global call to action this year is to reduce salt in our diet in order to improve the health of the heart.