There is overwhelming evidence that links excessive dietary salt intake to high blood pressure (hypertension) and heart disease as well as diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis, stomach cancer and kidney disease (1-4). More recently, too much salt in the diet has also been shown in human volunteers to produce severe immune deficiencies and to have a negative effect on the human immune system (5).
A simple lifestyle choice of using less salt in our diets can have a positive effect by reducing the risk of these health conditions (6).
Hypertension and COVID-19
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic the scientific data showed a significant percentage of hypertension and cardiovascular disease among patients with COVID-19. This data indicated that patients with severe COVID-19 infections were commonly older and had a history of hypertension. The data also made it clear that people with underlying health conditions were at higher risk for developing more serious cases of COVID-19, including hospitalisations, the need for ventilation, or death (7-14).
In 2020, Lippi et al., (15) predicted that considering the trajectory of COVID-19 together with a high prevalence of hypertension (an estimated 26% of the world population), the combination of these two conditions could pose overwhelming clinical, societal and economic burdens. Their pooled analysis on hypertension in patients with coronavirus disease suggested that hypertension may be associated with an up to 2.5-fold higher risk of severe or fatal COVID-19, especially in older individuals (15).
More recently, Reyes et al., 2021 have characterised COVID-19 cases across international networks in a retrospective cohort study using healthcare databases from the USA, Europe and South Korea. The study identified 2,851,035 diagnosed and 563,708 hospitalised patients with COVID-19. Again, their findings indicated that patients with hypertension were more likely to be hospitalised than patients without hypertension. Hospitalised COVID-19 patients with hypertension were more likely to have acute respiratory distress syndrome and increased mortality than patients without hypertension (16).
Data from the Office for National Statistics in the UK confirm these observations in their report on the proportion of death certificates where COVID-19 was the underlying cause. Hypertensive disease was reported among the top 3 pre-existing conditions recorded on the death certificates (17). The figures include deaths in England and Wales registered between October and December 2021.
The data and science are still emerging, but the current evidence indicates that reduction of hypertension is a legitimate and scientifically justifiable target to not only improve the general health of global populations but to improve the outcome from COVID-19 infection.
What Can You Do?
Using Suölo® Reduced Sodium Sea Salt and seasonings that are 50% reduced in sodium, in either the food we prepare at home or eat in restaurants or buy from the supermarket, can contribute to reducing salt and sodium intake in our diets. Wherever food is prepared, using Suölo® is an easy swap for regular salt, sea salt or other gourmet salts.
It is also advisable to get active and maintain a healthy weight because as well as eating healthily and reducing salt, regular exercise may help reduce your risk of getting serious health conditions which is important for your quality of life and well-being.
- WHO Guideline: Sodium intake for adults and children. Geneva: World Health Organization 2012
- Mozaffarian D et al. Global sodium consumption and death from cardiovascular causes. N Eng J Med 2014; 371(7):624-634
- He FJ and Macgregor GA. Effect of longer term modest salt reduction on blood pressure: Cochrane systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised trials. BMJ. 2013; 346: f1325
- Powles J et al. Global regional and national sodium intakes in 1990 and 2010: A systematic analysis of 24h urinary sodium excretion and dietary surveys worldwide. BMJ Open 2013; 3(12): e:003733
- Jobin K et al. A high-salt diet compromises antibacterial neutrophil responses through hormonal perturbation. Science Translational Medicine DOI: 10.1126/scietranslmed.aay3850
- High blood pressure (hypertension) - NHS (www.nhs.uk)
- Hamed MA. An Overview on COVID-19: reality and expectation. Bulletin of the National Research Centre 2020 44:86. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1186/s43369-020-00341-9
- Wang B et al. Does comorbidity increase the risk of patients with COVID-19: evidence from meta-analysis. Aging (Albany NY) Doi: 10.18632/aging.103000 Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7185114/
- Pormohammad A et al. Comparison of confirmed COVID-19 with SARS and MERS cases – Clinical characteristics, laboratory findings, radiographic signs and outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Rev Med Virol 2020; e2112Available at: https://doi.org/10.1002/rmv.2112
- Wei-jie G et al. Comorbidity and its impact on 1590 patients with COVID-19 in China: A nationwide analysis. medRxiv 2020.02.25.20027664; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.02.25.20027664 https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.02.25.20027664v1
- Wang D et al. Clinical Characteristics of 138 Hospitalized Patients with 2019 Novel Coronavirus–Infected Pneumonia in Wuhan, China. Published online February 07, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.1585
- Report of the WHO-China Joint Commission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) February 2020. Available at: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/who-china-joint-mission-on-covid-19-final-report.pdf
- Tadic M et al. COVID-19, Hypertension and cardiovascular diseases: Should we change the therapy? Pharmacological Research 158 Academic Press 2020. Available at: https://www-sciencedirect-com.rsm.idm.oclc.org/science/article/pii/S1043661820312147?via%3Dihub
- Kreutz R et al. Hypertension, the renin-angiotensin system and the risk of lower respiratory tract infections and lung injury: implications for COVID-19. Cardio Res Available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/cvr/cvaa097
- Lippi G et al. Hypertension in patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): a pooled analysis. Polish Archives of Internal Medicine 2020;130(4):304-309. Doi:10.20452/pamw.15272
- Reyes C et al., Characteristics and outcomes of patients with COVID-19 with and without prevalent hypertension: a multinational cohort study. BMJ Open 2021;11e057632. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2021-057632
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest insights - Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)