The American Heart Association (AHA) wants the general population to consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day.

Although the 2005 version of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended a sodium intake limit of 2,300 mg/day, many experts believe that is too much for most Americans. The newly released update continues to advise people to reduce daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg, but also states that this cap should be lowered to l,500 mg/day among persons who are aged 51 years and older; black (all ages); or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.

As the AHA notes in an advisory statement authored by Lawrence J. Appel, MD, MPH, and colleagues — and published online ahead of print by Circulation — at least 50% and perhaps as many as 70% of adults are included in these groups, “and because [approximately] 90% of U.S. adults will develop hypertension over their lifetime, the goal should be 1,500 mg/day, as advised by the scientific advisory of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Committee.”

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As sodium intake rises, so does BP. Conversely, lowering BP can combat the associated risk of negative health outcomes, as indicated by a recent study showing that large numbers of middle-aged and older women could reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease through such an effort. As described in their online report for Hypertension, Jan A. Staessen, MD, PhD, and colleagues studied 9,357 adults in 11 countries for more than 11 years. They found high systolic BP to be one of the three major risk factors accounting for 85% of the modifiable risk for heart disease in women as well as men. (The other two factors were high cholesterol and a smoking habit.)

They also learned that the proportion of potentially preventable and reversible heart diseases is almost 36% in women, compared with 24% in men, as measured by 24-hour systolic BP monitoring. A 15-mm Hg rise in systolic BP increased CVD risk by 32% in men but by 56% in women.