INTERSALT study findings. Public health and medical care implications

J. Stamler, G. Rose, R. Stamler, P. Elliott, A. Dyer, M. Marmot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

289 Scopus citations


INTERSALT found a significant association between 24-hour urine sodium excretion and systolic blood pressure in individuals. There was also a significant association between sodium and slope (increase) of blood pressure with age across population samples. The weight of evidence from animal-experimental, clinical, intervention, and epidemiological data favors a causal relation. INTERSALT data from 52 centers in 32 countries permit an estimate of effect on average population blood pressure of lower sodium intake. Based on the sodium-blood pressure association in individuals, it was estimated that a habitual population sodium intake that was lower by 100 mmol/day (e.g., 70 vs. 170 mmol/day) would correspond to an average population systolic pressure that was lower by at least 2.2 mm Hg. This size difference in systolic blood pressure in major US and UK population studies is associated with 4% lower risk of coronary death and 6% lower risk of stroke death in middle age. If habitual diet is both lower in sodium and higher in potassium with lower alcohol intake and less obesity, INTERSALT data estimate average population systolic pressure would be lower by 5 mm Hg. This was calculated to correspond to a 9% lower risk of coronary death and a 14% lower risk of stroke death. INTERSALT cross-population data also suggest that, with a 100 mmol/day lower sodium intake over the life span, the average increase in population systolic pressure from age 25 to 55 years would be less by 9 mm Hg, corresponding at age 55 to a 16% lower risk of subsequent coronary death and 23% lower risk of stroke death. These findings have importance in long-term population strategy for reduction of cardiovascular mortality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)570-577
Number of pages8
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine

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