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Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release # 017-14
Tuesday, June 24, 2014

New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Jean Weinberg/Veronica Lewin: (347) 396-4177, PressOffice@health.nyc.gov

American Heart Association:
Cathy Wilkins: 212-878-5930, Cathy.Wilkins@heart.org
Meredith Coon: 212-878-5947, Meredith.Coon@heart.org


Health Department and American Heart Association Bring Together 34 of The World’s Leading Scientists to Affirm That Sodium Reduction Is Key to Reducing Cardiovascular Disease

June 24, 2014 – The Health Department and the American Heart Association have brought together 34 of the world’s leading scientists to affirm the benefits of reducing population sodium intake to reduce heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in New York City and the United States. 

“There is consensus among leading scientists around the world that there is a well-established link between sodium intake and blood pressure, and high blood pressure is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett. “In order to address the number one cause of death, we must continue to work to reduce the sodium content in our food supply.”

“It’s challenging for Americans to stick to sodium intake recommendations because most of the sodium we eat in this country is added to our food before we buy it,” said Elliott Antman, M.D., president-elect of the American Heart Association. “Decades of education and awareness about sodium reduction have not adequately moved the needle. In order to really make a difference in the health of all Americans, we must reduce sodium in the food supply through the support of food manufacturers, food processors and the restaurant industry.”

The recommended daily limit of sodium intake according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is 2,300 mg per day, however the vast majority of Americans consume an average of 3,400 mg per day, about 50% more than that. Nearly 80% of this sodium consumption comes not from the salt shaker but from packaged and restaurant food. It is estimated that each year 92,000 deaths could be averted and up to $24 billion health care costs saved by reducing sodium intake nationally.

Consensus Statement on Sodium

Cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke, are leading causes of death in the United States. Influencing the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease provides an opportunity to improve Americans’ health, which in turn can prevent illness and disability, reduce health disparities, save lives and reduce healthcare costs. Considering the full scope of research, the undersigned affirm the scientific basis for lowering current sodium consumption levels in the U.S. population.

Public health recommendations are made after weighing all of the evidence, including studies of greater and lesser strength of design and some with conflicting results.  A vast body of research, including observational studies, feeding studies, and randomized controlled trials, indicates that lowering sodium intake lowers blood pressure, a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.  After reviewing evidence on sodium intake and cardiovascular disease outcomes, the Institute of Medicine recently concluded that reducing population sodium intake would have a positive effect on public health.  This is consistent with the compelling body of evidence from laboratory, clinical, and population research that together establishes that high sodium intake causes increases in blood pressure.

We conclude that the evidence is clear.  Population-wide reduction of sodium intake is an integral approach to reducing cardiovascular disease events and mortality in the United States.

Signatories:

Cheryl Anderson, PhD
Associate Professor of Epidemiology, University of California San Diego

Elliott M. Antman, MD, MACC, FESC, FAHA
Professor of Medicine and Associate Dean for Clinical/Translational Research, Harvard Medical School; Senior Physician, Cardiovascular Division of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital; President, American Heart Association, 2014-2015

Lawrence J. Appel, MD, MPH
C. David Molina, MD, MPH Chair in Medicine, Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology and International Health (Human Nutrition), Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

Gary Beauchamp, PhD
Director and President, Monell Chemical Senses Center

Norman R.C. Campbell, MD
General Internist and Professor of Medicine, Community Health Sciences and Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Calgary

Simon Capewell, MD, DSc
Professor of Clinical Epidemiology, University of Liverpool

Francesco P. Cappuccio, MD, MSc, DSc, FRCP, FFPH, FAHA
Cephalon Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine & Epidemiology, Consultant Physician, University of Warwick

Stephen R. Daniels, MD, PhD
Chairman and Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Colorado School of Medicine

Keith C. Ferdinand, MD, FACC, FAHA
Chair, National Forum for Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention; Professor of Clinical Medicine, Tulane University School of Medicine

Christopher Gardner, PhD
Professor of Medicine (Research), Stanford Prevention Research Center

Feng J. He, PhD
Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Barts and The London School of Medicine & Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London

Jiang He, MD
Joseph S. Copes Chair and Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine

Mariell Jessup, MD, FAHA, FACC, FESC
Professor of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Heart and Vascular Center; President, American Heart Association, 2013-2014

Michel Joffres, MD, PhD
Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Canada

Shiriki Kumanyika, PhD, MPH
Professor of Epidemiology, Department of Biostatistics & Epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

Darwin R. Labarthe, MD, PhD, MPH
Professor in Preventive Medicine-Epidemiology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Mary R. L'Abbe, PhD
Earle W. McHenry Professor and Chair, Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto

Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc
Gershoff Professor of Nutrition Science and Policy, Director and Senior Scientist, Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory, Tufts University

Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, MD, ScM, FACC, FAHA
Senior Associate Dean for Clinical and Translational Research; Director, Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute; Chair, Department of Preventive Medicine Professor of Preventive Medicine and Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Graham MacGregor, MA, MB, B.Chir
Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine,  Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London; Chairman of Consensus Action on Salt and Health

Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH
Dean, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University

Bruce Neal, MB ChB, PhD, FRCP, FAHA
Senior Director, The George Institute for Global Health and Professor of Medicine, University of Sydney

Ralph L. Sacco, MD, MS, FAHA, FAAN
Professor and Olemberg Chair of Neurology; Executive Director, McKnight Brain Institute; Chief of Neurology, Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami

Frank Sacks, MD
Professor of Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, Nutrition Department, Harvard School of Public Health; Professor of Medicine, Channing Division of Network Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and Brigham & Women's Hospital

Lynn Silver, MD, MPH
Senior Advisor for Chronic Disease and Obesity, Public Health Institute

Jeremiah Stamler, MD
Professor Emeritus, Department of Preventive Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University

Meir Stampfer, MD, DrPH
Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health

Lyn M. Steffen, PhD, MPH, RD
Associate Professor, Division of Epidemiology & Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota

Mary Story, PhD
Professor, Community & Family Medicine and Global Health, Duke University

William M. Vollmer, PhD
Senior Investigator, Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research

Myron H. Weinberger, MD
Professor Emeritus of Medicine, Indiana University

Paul K. Whelton, MB, MD, MSc
Show Chwan Professor of Global Public Health, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine

Walter Willett, MD
Professor and Chair, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health

Kevin Willis, PhD
Executive Director, Canadian Stroke Network

We welcome additional scientists who publish in this field and agree with this statement to contact the NYC Health Department to become a signatory: salt@health.nyc.gov

For more information on the impact of high sodium on health, ways of reducing sodium in your diet, and national initiatives on sodium reduction visit www.nyc.gov/health/salt

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