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Reducing sodium decreases long-term risk for cardiovascular disease

Reducing sodium intake not only prevents high blood pressure, but also prevents heart disease, according to new clinical trial data from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. Men and women with pre-hypertension who reduced their sodium intake by 25 to 35 percent had a 25 percent lower risk of total cardiovascular disease over the 10 to 15 years after they reduced their sodium intake.

"The Long-term Effects of Dietary Sodium Reduction on Cardiovascular Disease Outcomes: Observational Follow-up of the Trials of Hypertension Prevention," is published online on April 20 by the British Medical Journal.

Two Trials of Hypertension Prevention were conducted in 10 clinical sites in 1987-1990 and 1990-1995, with follow up for 10 to 15 years after that. Through dietary and behavioral intervention, participants in the trials achieved average dietary sodium reductions of 25 to35 percent lower than their average intake before the trial. Both trials found that the reductions in sodium intake prevented high blood pressure. This new follow-up data shows that the groups who reduced their sodium intake also had lower mortality from cardiovascular disease. Mail questionnaires during the follow-up period suggested that some of the dietary changes are long-lasting, despite the difficulty in avoiding high-sodium foods in the United States.

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The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) plans, conducts, and supports research related to the causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of heart, blood vessel, lung, and blood diseases; and sleep disorders. The Institute also administers national health education campaigns on women and heart disease, healthy weight for children, and other topics. NHLBI press releases and other materials are available online at:

The NIH-the nation's medical research agency-includes 27 institutes and centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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