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America   More than double the ideal upper limit

Americans with high blood pressure eat more salt than in 1999

SaltFor Americans with high blood pressure, cutting back on salt is an important way to help keep the condition under control. Yet, new research shows that these patients are getting more salt in their diet than they did in 1999.

Between 1999 and 2012, salt (sodium) consumption rose from about 2,900 milligrams a day (mg/day) to 3,350 mg/day.

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That's more than double the ideal upper limit of 1,500 mg/day of sodium recommended by the American Heart Association for people with high blood pressure, hypertension.

One teaspoon of table salt contains about 2,300 mg of sodium. Salt also contains chloride, but it's the sodium that's concerning for heart and blood pressure problems.

Sodium is an essential nutrient that helps control water balance in the body. But too much can cause excess water to build up, increasing blood pressure, and putting a strain on the heart and blood vessels, according to the heart association.

"You really need to watch the salt in your diet, especially if you are hypertensive," said study senior author Dr. Sameer Bansilal. He is an assistant professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

"People who eat too much salt are more likely to have uncontrolled hypertension, and they may suffer from complications of hypertension, like heart and kidney dysfunction, and heart attack and stroke," he said.

According to Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, "These findings question the effectiveness of interventions to reduce salt consumption among hypertensive adults."

For the study, Bansilal and colleagues collected data on more than 13,000 men and women who took part in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 1999 and 2012. All of the participants had high blood pressure. Their average age was 60.

Daily sodium intake increased among people with high blood pressure by more than 14 percent overall from 1999 to 2012, the findings showed.

Among Hispanics and blacks, sodium consumption increased 26 percent and 20 percent, respectively. Among whites, sodium consumption increased 2 percent, the researchers found.




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