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In Europe, 10,000 people die every day from cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular diseases are the cause of four out of ten deaths in Europe, or 10,000 deaths per day and 4 million per year, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported on Wednesday, urging Europeans to eat less salt.

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In Europe, 10,000 people die every day from cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular diseases are the cause of four out of ten deaths in Europe, or 10,000 deaths per day and 4 million per year, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported on Wednesday, urging Europeans to eat less salt. “Implementing targeted policies to reduce salt consumption by 25% could save around 900,000 lives from cardiovascular diseases by 2030,” said Hans Kluge, regional director of WHO Europe cited in a press release dated May 15.

On the Old Continent, one in three adults between 30 and 79 years old suffers from hypertension, and it is often because of their salt consumption. Fifty-one of the region's 53 countries have average daily salt intake above the WHO recommended maximum level of five grams (one teaspoon), mainly due to processed foods and snacking.

This consumption follows an average gradient which increases from western Europe towards the east. Only Malta and Cyprus are slightly below the recommended 5 grams while the countries which exceed 14 g are all in Eastern Europe (Kazakhstan in the lead followed by Turkey). In France, consumption is around 8 g per day while our German neighbors exceed 10 g. The Spanish and Italians are somewhere in between, at around 9g.

“High salt intake increases blood pressure, which is one of the main risk factors for cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes,” the WHO said. But other factors should not be neglected such as advanced age, genetic background, obesity and overweight, lack of physical activity, alcohol and tobacco consumption.

Also read: Too much noise can harm cardiovascular health

The Europe region, demarcated by the WHO between Greenland in the West and Russia in the East, has the highest blood pressure prevalence in the world, at almost 37%. The distribution of prevalence follows a geographic divide: the probability of dying young (between 30 and 69 years) from a disease of this type is almost five times higher in Eastern Europe and Central Asia than in Western Europe. France has one of the lowest rates in Europe at around 30%. It is at the top of the European countries with Spain, Malta and Germany. However, the French High Authority for Health recalls that “around 20% of hypertensive patients in France are not treated and 50% of treated hypertensive patients do not achieve the controlled blood pressure objectives”.

According to the WHO, men in the region - which extends to Central Asia - have a more than double the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than women.

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