Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

High salt intake: A key driver of hypertension

High salt in your diet in one of the major risk factors for high blood pressure, says Dr. Anurag Gupta

Published: Jan 20, 2020 10:45:47 AM IST
Updated: Jan 20, 2020 01:24:20 PM IST

High salt intake: A key driver of hypertension

Hypertension has been labeled the “largest epidemic ever known to mankind”, leading to over 10 million deaths every year. Of the estimated 1.13 billion people who have hypertension, fewer than 1 in 5 have it under control.

India is witnessing escalating incidence of hypertension. Recent estimates from a study revealed that approximately 25.3 percent of the Indian population suffers from hypertension. As an estimate, in India, about 16% of ischemic heart disease, 21% of peripheral vascular disease, 24% of acute myocardial infarctions, and 29% of strokes are attributed to hypertension.

Several risk factors contribute to the high prevalence of high blood pressure-genetics, aging, unhealthy diet, harmful use of alcohol and tobacco, overweight, sedentary and stressful lifestyle, diabetes and high cholesterol.

Rising blood pressure is a serious medical condition that significantly increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, and blindness. If not reversed, it will impact human resource pool and will be an instant setback to the economy and national productivity.

It is estimated that nearly 1.5 billion adults across the globe will have hypertension in the decade ahead. India stands to benefit immensely if it seizes every moment to disarm the onset and progression of hypertension mediated cardiovascular diseases.

Issued in Public Interest by USV PVT LTD

Salt and Hypertension

Indians have been estimated to consume almost double the recommended intake of salt as evident from a study conducted by the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI). The estimated average salt consumption among Indians is approximately 11 grams per day, which is almost double the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended upper intake limit of 5 grams per day. This predisposes Indians to a high risk of developing various cardiovascular disorders including hypertension or high blood pressure.

Different kinds of chutneys, pickles, papads and snacks are innate to different states of India. However, the high amount of salt used for preparation and seasoning of these food items is a matter of concern. Substantial clinical evidence demonstrates positive effect of salt intake on the blood pressure. Opting for low salt and low sodium food options, limiting intake of canned and processed foods can help in significantly lowering down the sodium intake. Considering the health benefits to delay or prevent the incidence of hypertension in normotensive people, as well as positive impact on blood pressure lowering in hypertensive people, the efforts to restrict the salt intake is worthwhile and we should strive to achieve it.

Disclaimer: The views, suggestions and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Forbes India journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.