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Heart Disease: Simple Way To Slash the Odds by 25%

Heart disease, strokes and high blood pressure - any form of cardiovascular disease - can be dramatically reduced by a simple dietary change. But there's a catch.

A 15-year study by researchers at Harvard Medical School involving more than 3000 adults aged 30-54 who had early symptoms of high blood pressure has confirmed a link - for the first time - between high salt intake and cardiovascular disease.

Lead researcher Nancy Cook, a professor at HMS, said the study provides "unique evidence that sodiu, reduction might prevent cardiovascular disease".

Some volunteers in the study cut their salt intake by 25 to 35 percent, while the control group continued their habitual patterns. After 15 years, those who reduced their salt consumption were 25 found to be 25 percent less likely to have had a stroke or heart attack.

Their chance of premature death was also reduced by 20 percent, according to the study repor.

Baker Heart Research Institute director Professor Garry Jennings noted that the study was the first to show that reducing salt "lowers some of the consequences of high blood pressure like stroke and heart attack".

He said that any added salt posed a health risk, so a diet based on fresh food was the only way to avoid excess salt.

"The problem is that 80 percent of the salt we use is added during the commercial preparation of food."

So the solution to heart disease is simple... although implementing it will require a little more than casual attention and may appeal only to members of the American Heart Association, or those with a history of heart attacks, congestive heart failure, or the managment of stroke symptoms.

How likely are your dietary habits to lead to heart disease?