Heart Association Lowers Sodium Intake Guidelines

by Lois Etienne on February 3, 2011

in Senior Health and Safety

Confused about how much is too much sodium and salt?  The American Heart Association (AHA) has recently weighed in on this important matter, issuing a call to action for the public, health professionals, the food industry and the government to intensify efforts to reduce the amount of sodium (salt) Americans consume daily to 1,500 milligrams.

This was already the level recommended by most health groups for senior citizens – those most in danger of high blood pressure.

The AHA noted that elevated blood pressure (hypertension) is a major public health problem – approximately 90 percent of all Americans will develop hypertension over their lifetime.

spokane_senior_and_in_home_caregiverIn the advisory, published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, the association sets out the science behind the American Heart Association’s recommendation for the general population, which is to consume no more than 1,500 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day because of the harmful effects of sodium – elevated blood pressure and increased risk of stroke, heart attacks and kidney disease.

Sodium consumption is currently more than two times higher than the recommended upper limit of 1,500 mg daily, with 77 percent of that consumption coming from packaged, processed and restaurant foods.

“Even a modest decline in intake – say 400 mg per day – would produce benefits that are substantial and warrant implementation,” say the advisory authors.

According to the advisory:

  • As sodium intake rises, so does blood pressure and the risk of negative health outcomes.
  • Independent of its effects on blood pressure, excess sodium intake adversely affects the heart, kidneys and blood vessels.
  • The potential public health benefits of sodium reduction are enormous and extend to all Americans.
  • Scientific evidence on the adverse effects of excess sodium is strong and compelling.

It’s important to check the sodium level in packaging, particularly of processed foods, to ensure that you are staying within the recommended daily allowance. Consult with your doctor or a nutritionist if you have questions.

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