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Lowering blood pressure, sodium intake may prevent 94 million early deaths

Experts estimate increasing high blood pressure treatment to 70 percent of the world's population could increase the lifespan of nearly 40 million people.

By Tauren Dyson
Lowering blood pressure, sodium intake may prevent 94 million early deaths
Experts estimate increasing high blood pressure treatment to 70 percent of the global population could increase the lifespan of nearly 40 million people. Photo by agilemktg1/Flickr

June 10 (UPI) -- Reducing blood pressure and sodium intake, while also removing trans fats from a diet, could prolong the lives of 94 million people in the next 25 years, new research shows.

Experts estimate increasing high blood pressure treatment to 70 percent of the world's population could increase the lifespan of nearly 40 million people, according to a study published Monday in Circulation. Reducing sodium intake could extend the lives of another 40 million people, and eliminating trans fats could cut nearly 15 million premature deaths due to cardiovascular disease.

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"Focusing our resources on the combination of these three interventions can have a huge potential impact on cardiovascular health through 2040," Goodarz Danaei, associate professor of global health at Harvard Chan School and study lead author, said in a news release.

The findings come from global data compiled by the World Health Organization from multiple studies and estimates.

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The recommended interventions, researchers say, could have the biggest impact in East Asia, the Pacific, and South Asia, along with sub-Saharan Africa.

The researchers point to data that showed 90 percent of patients who enrolled in a Kaiser Permanente program in Northern California improved their blood pressure control between 2001 and 2013. They achieved these results through improved treatment protocols, patient-friendly services and healthcare information systems that track patients with hypertension.

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Poor and middle-income countries have used similar programs to treat and control hypertension, the researchers say.

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Now, global health officials will have to encourage leaders in various countries to enact policies that promote similar programs.

Nearly 18 million people die annually from cardiovascular disease, according to the World Health Organization.

"These are realistic goals that have been shown to be attainable on smaller scales," Danaei said. "We need the commitment to scale up the programs to achieve them globally."

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