Up to half a million lives could be saved over the next decade by small, steady reductions in the national salt intake, computer simulations suggest.

Gradually cutting sodium consumption by 4% annually to reach 2,200 mg per day by 10 years would prevent 275,000 to 505,000 deaths over that span, depending on the modeled assumptions, Pamela G. Coxson, PhD, of the University of California San Francisco, and colleagues found.

Immediately dropping to the 1,500 mg per day level recommended by federal dietary guidelines would save 1.2 million lives over 10 years, they reported in the March issue of Hypertension.

That rapid a degree of reduction from the current national average of 3,600 mg per day isn't feasible, and even a 40% reduction over a decade would be "a daunting task that will likely require multiple layers of intervention," the group acknowledged.

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