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Salt-Blood Pressure Link Affirmed by Researchers

(4/8/1991) L.A. Times -- Salt has a greater link to high blood pressure than previous studies have indicated, and even those not at risk should cut their salt intake by about one-third.

Salt has a greater link to high blood pressure than previous studies have indicated, and even those not at risk should cut their salt intake by about one-third, researchers said in last week's British Medical Journal. The researchers surveyed 78 studies involving 47,000 people to make the connection, which had been disputed in a number of recent studies.

Every study that discounted the benefits of a low-salt diet lasted less than five weeks, which was not enough time, said Dr. Malcolm Law of the University of London, who directed the review. "The bottom line is that everyone--even if their doctor didn't tell them they were at high risk for heart disease--should reduce the amount of salt in their diets by at least 3 grams (half a teaspoon) a day," Law said in an interview.

For a typical American adult, that would mean cutting salt intake by a third--from 1 1/2 teaspoons a day to a single teaspoon, he said.

Hypertension, or persistently high blood pressure, has been associated with an increased risk of stroke and heart attacks. About 32 million people in the United States are hypertensive.

Law said low-salt diets would save one in five people from strokes, one in six from heart disease and one in two from needing anti-hypertensive drugs. That works out to about 250,000 fewer deaths a year in the United States, he added.

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