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Study: Salt-Reduction Campaign Saved Lives

A 15 percent reduction in salt consumption was likely “an important contributor” to a 40 percent reduction in stroke and heart disease deaths in the last decade in England, researchers said Monday.

The “single largest” contribution to the decline in deaths was a decrease in blood pressure, they said.

Smoking and blood cholesterol also declined over the period, 2003-11; produce consumption and body mass index rose.

At the same time, there were improvements in treatment for high blood pressure and heart disease, they said in the online British Medical Journal Open.

The English government in 2003 began a program to get companies gradually to reduce the salt levels in processed foods. It led to a 15 percent decrease by 2011, the researchers wrote. Since the start of that program, salt intake fell by 1.4 grams a day. (In the United States, health authorities recommend people consume a limit of around 2 grams a day, depending on several factors such as age; the average intake is 3.4 to 4 grams.)

— Los Angeles Times