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Reduce sodium, reduce health care costs

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You know that reducing sodium is good for America's health, but it is also expected to be good for its pocketbook too.

doctor takes patient's blood pressureThat's because excess sodium boosts blood pressure, and high blood pressure is a leading cause of heart disease. The national health care costs for treating these illnesses are sky-high. Earlier research estimated national medical savings ranging from $10 billion to $24 billion with a daily 1,200 milligram (mg) reduction in sodium intake.

A report titled, States Stand To Save Hundreds of Millions in Health Care Costs with National Sodium Reduction Effort, released last week by the Center for Science in the Public Interest crunched the numbers to estimate how much each of the U.S.'s 50 states could save by reducing sodium to 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day. That's a reduction of 1,200 mg from what we're currently eating.

The results show that potential health care cost savings range from an annual $36 million for Wyoming to $2.4 billion for California. Three other states - Texas, New York, and Florida - could also save more than $1 billion a year.

Eight other states would potentially save between $500 million and $1 billion a year in reduced health care costs: Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, Michigan, New Jersey, and Virginia.

The calculations are rough estimates. That's because sodium intake probably varies from state to state, and each state's residents have different chances of getting high blood pressure depending on the mix of age, gender, ethnicity, and health status among the state's residents. (All of those factors influence the risk of high blood pressure.) The report’s estimates do not consider those population variables.

If health care costs from high-sodium diets can be avoided, and health care dollars could be spent on other important priorities.

Are you surprised to learn how much your state could save by reducing sodium?