If teens could reduce their daily salt consumption by 3,000mg, they would cut their risk for heart disease and stroke significantly in adulthood, researchers said on Sunday. Based on results of a computer modelling analysis, researchers projected that a 3,000mg reduction in sodium by teenagers could reduce hypertension by 30-43% when they become adults. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a common condition that may have no symptoms for years, but can eventually cause serious health conditions, including heart attack and stroke.
Other benefits over time as teens hit 50 years of age include a 7-12% reduction in coronary heart disease, an 8-14% reduction in heart attacks, and a 5-8% reduction in stroke, according to data presented at the scientific sessions at the American Heart Association meeting in Chicago that started on Saturday and goes on till Wednesday.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting sodium intake to 1,500mg. Teenagers consume more than 3,800mg—more than any other group. Processed food typically contains too much sodium. Pizza is one of the biggest problems for teens when it comes to sodium, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics.
“The additional benefit of lower salt consumption early is that we can hopefully change the expectations of how food should taste, ideally to something slightly less salty,” says Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, the lead author of the study and associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco. “Most of the salt we eat is not from our salt shaker, but salt that is already added in food that we eat,” she says.
Bereavement: Time is a great healer
The death of a spouse or child can trigger potentially harmful rapid increases in heart rate and changes in heart-rhythm regularity, but a study showed the measures revert back to normal ranges within six months, researchers said on Sunday.
“While the focus at the time of bereavement is naturally directed toward the deceased person, the health and welfare of bereaved survivors should also be of concern to medical professionals, as well as family and friends,” says Thomas Buckley, acting director of postgraduate studies at the University of Sydney Nursing School in Sydney, Australia. Heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths have previously been associated with recent bereavement, but previous research has not been able to explain the link, or why the risk appears to wane over time. In the new study, 24-hour heart monitors and other tests enabled researchers to document increases in heart rate and reduced heart rate variability—a measure of the heart’s rhythmic regularity.
The study showed bereaved patients had almost twice the number of episodes of rapid heartbeats, or tachycardia— 2.23 episodes versus 1.23 episodes—than non-bereaved participants in the first weeks after the family member’s death. But after six months, their numbers were lower than the non-bereaved volunteers. The average heart rate for bereaved patients was 75.1 beats per minute in the early stages of the study, compared with 70.7 in the non-bereaved. But the rate for the bereaved patients reverted to 70.7 after six months.
“Increased heart rate and reduced heart rate variability in the early months of bereavement are possible mechanisms of increased cardiovascular risk during this often very stressful period,” says Buckley, the study’s lead researcher. He presented the results at the annual scientific meeting of the American Heart Association, being held in Chicago. The study also assessed levels of depression and anxiety, which rose greatly after the death of a family member, but abated only somewhat after six months. The average depression score in the bereaved was 26.3, as assessed by a standard measurement scale, compared to only 6.1% in the non-bereaved.
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