Salt substitute significantly reduces hypertension amongst rural Chinese

A salt substitute specially formulated to be flavourful and effective has significantly reduced blood pressure among high-risk residents of northern, rural China, where home-pickled foods are a dietary mainstay and hypertension is rampant.

This simple approach announced today at the American College of Cardiology's 55th Annual Scientific Session in Atlanta by The George Institute for International Health, offers a new low cost strategy for the prevention of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.

Stroke and heart attack are the two leading causes of death worldwide, responsible for more than 10 million deaths annually. The problem is particularly marked in China, where salt consumption is very high and elevated blood pressure levels are extremely prevalent.

"Cardiovascular diseases have been the main cause of death in China for some time now," said Associate Professor Bruce Neal, Director of the Cardiac and Renal Division of The George Institute. "Our goal is to help identify practical new ways of addressing this serious health problem. We are particularly interested in strategies that will work in poor rural areas where preventive care is currently very limited."

Professor Neal reported "Among the 600 individuals studied in rural Northern China, the low-sodium high-potassium salt substitute demonstrated that it could reduce blood pressure to about the same extent as single drug therapy."

"It is likely that a population-wide switch to salt substitute in rural China would prevent many hundreds of thousands of serious vascular events each year." Professor Neal added.

The benefits of changing dietary salt intake demonstrated in this study would extend directly to most other countries worldwide. High blood pressure is a leading cause of death the world over and widespread lowering of dietary sodium intake would produce huge health gains.

Until the recent formation of the Australian branch of World Action on Salt and Health (AWASH) there has been little local emphasis on the importance of reducing dietary salt.


AWASH and its Australian members including researchers from the University of Sydney, Deakin University, CSIRO Human Nutrition and industry partners from Coles, the Australian Grocers Council (AGC) and Unilever aim to improve the health of the Australian population by reducing dietary sodium. The chief goal of this group is ensure that the science about salt and its adverse effects on health are translated into policy in Australia.

WASH was established in England in 2005, as an extension of the successful organisation CASH (Consensus Action on Salt and Health). CASH has successfully worked to reach a consensus with the food industry and Government over the harmful effects of a high salt diet, the group has also identified practical ways that can bring about a reduction in the amount of salt in processed foods, salt added at the time of cooking, and the salt used at the table.

For further information or arrange interviews, contact Emma Eyles, Public Affairs Officer, The George Institute for International Health on ph: +612 9993 4592, mobile: 0410 411 983, email: [email protected] or visit The George Institute website at

Notes for Editors:
The George Institute for International Health seeks to gather evidence to address the growing problems of heart and vascular disease, injury, mental illness and neurological diseases through high-quality research, evidence-based policy development and a range of capacity development programs.

Bruce Neal, Director - Cardiac & Renal Division, The George Institute
Bruce Neal is Director of the Cardiac and Renal Division at The George Institute for International Health, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Sydney, Heart Foundation Career Development Fellow and an Honorary Consultant Epidemiologist at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. Bruce completed his medical training at Bristol University in the UK in 1990 and spent four years in clinical posts during which time he gained membership of the UK Royal College of Physicians. Prior to taking up his current post in 1999, he spent four years working as an epidemiologist at the Clinical Trials Research Unit in Auckland, New Zealand where he completed his PhD in Medicine.

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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