World Action on Salt & Health

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16 May 2013

Embargoed until 00:00 17th May 2013

• High blood pressure kills nearly 10 million people a year worldwide
• 16 million people in the UK have high blood pressure, of which 7 out of 10 are still not receiving adequate treatment
• The best prescription for lowering blood pressure is prevention

High blood pressure (hypertension) is one of the biggest causes of premature death worldwide – killing 9.4 million people every year [Ref 1] – through the heart disease, heart failure, stroke, kidney disease it causes.  High blood pressure is a ticking time bomb; it is estimated that 1.5billion people will have with high blood pressure by 2025 [Ref 2]. World Hypertension Day is focusing on encouraging people to have their blood pressure tested, and to improve the way your heart beat is monitored.
In the UK, only one in three people with high blood pressure have it controlled to the target level (below 140/90), this means 7 out of 10 people are still not receiving adequate treatment [Ref 3].  Many thousands of unnecessary and preventable stroke and heart attacks are still occurring despite an improvement in treatment.  

Katharine Jenner, CEO Blood Pressure UK says:  “The only way that you can know your blood pressure is to have it tested.  Once you know your numbers you can take action by speaking to your GP and practice nurse to make sure it is properly controlled. Getting tested could save your life”
Preventive measures have to be taken seriously to address the growing problem. Salt reduction has been shown to be one of the most cost-effective ways of lowering blood pressure and therefore reducing deaths from strokes and heart disease.

Professor Macgregor, Chairman of CASH says: “Reducing your salt intake lowers your blood pressure.  Health Survey for England has shown that, after an unobtrusive salt reduction programme in the UK for the last 10 years, and better control of blood pressure, blood pressure has come down by an average 3.1mmHg, (2.6mmHg for men, 3.6mmHg for women from 2003-2011) [Ref 4] significantly reducing the UK population’s risk of having a stroke or a heart attack.”

Salt reduction is now a worldwide priority to reduce blood pressure.  Many countries around the world are now following the UK’s lead and implementing their own salt reduction programs – particularly in light of the latest commitment by Governments around the world to reduce the global burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). These lifestyle diseases - such as heart disease, heart failure, strokes, cancer, diabetes are all largely preventable and treatable – there is therefore an urgent need for effective interventions.
Reducing dietary salt intake is a key dietary target to reduce population blood pressure. There has already been progress on population-wide reductions in salt consumption in countries such as the UK, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Australia and South Africa are implementing ambitious programmes that engage with industry.

Clare Farrand, International programme lead, WASH says: “We are all eating too much salt, which is damaging our health. Population wide salt reduction programmes will have huge benefits as the most people will be exposed to the positive effects. Salt reduction is one of the single most cost effective public health interventions, and so we are working to encourage all countries to take action now.”



Ref 1: Keraney, Whelton et al. Global burden of hypertension. Lancet 2005; 365: 217-23
Ref 2: Lim et al. A comparative risk assessment of burden of disease and injury attributable to 67 risk factors and risk factor clusters  in 21 region2, 1990-2010: a systematic analysis for the Global burden of disease study 2010. Lancet 2012; 380: 224-60
Ref 3: The Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Health 2001 (
Ref 4: Health Survey for England 2013

For more information, contact Clare Farrand on 020 7882 6229, 

For more information, contact Katharine Jenner on 020 7882 6018, or 



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