High-sodium diets linked to 1.65 million annual deaths worldwide

Excessive salt consumption may be behind one in 10 deaths from heart disease and stroke worldwide — one in five for people younger than 70. The global total for annual deaths linked to sodium may be as high as 1.65 million.

These findings were published in a new study led by Dariush Mozaffarian, now dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, who conducted the research while he was a faculty member at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). It was one of three studies on sodium consumption published August 14, 2014 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

While the two additional studies raised questions about the relationship between sodium and cardiovascular disease, HSPH’s Walter Willett called the links “very clear.” Willett, Fredrick John Stare Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition department chair, was not involved in any of the studies. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, he said that while the optimal level of sodium consumption is not clear, “we should be moving toward lower sodium intakes.”

Read study: Global Sodium Consumption and Death from Cardiovascular Causes

Read Los Angeles Times story: Excess sodium intake linked to 1.65 million deaths annually