Go to the top

Stroke Experts Urge Patients to Do Their Part: Kick the Salt

Posted on May 13, 2010

Demetrius Lopes M.D., endovascular neurosurgeon and stroke expert at Rush University Medical Center applauds recent commitments from major food manufacturers and leading restaurants to reduce the salt in their products and menus.  The National Salt Reduction Initiative aims to reduce salt in 62 categories of packaged foods and 25 categories of foods sold in restaurants.  Several household names, including Heinz, Kraft Foods, Mars Foods, Subway and Starbucks have jumped on board, to name a few.

Reduce salt intake to decrease stroke risk.

Why the concern over salt?  Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure which is a significant risk factor for stroke.   Stroke is America’s #3 killer and a leading cause of severe, long-term disability.  Managing high blood pressure is the most important thing Americans can do to lessen their risk of stroke, as over 70% of strokes can be directly linked to high blood pressure.  Controlling salt intake is one simple step to get blood pressure back under control.

High blood pressure has been shown to damage the body’s arteries.  Weakened and diseased arteries in the brain put someone at a much higher risk of stroke.  About 87% of strokes are classified as ischemic  which means they are caused by narrowed or clogged blood vessels in the brain or neck that cut off the blood flow to brain cells.      Patients with high blood pressure, or hypertension, are at risk of developing a build-up of plaque in their arteries.   Narrowed arteries resulting from this plaque build-up may prevent sufficient blood from flowing to the brain.  In addition, hemorrhagic strokes are caused by a blood vessel in the brain rupturing which can be the result of weakened vessel walls, also caused by high blood pressure.

Prevention is the best treatment for stroke.  Stroke experts such as Dr. Lopes agree the National Salt Reduction Initiative is a positive step in helping reduce the incidence of hypertension and ultimately stroke.  If you have any questions regarding hypertension and your risk of stroke, please let Dr. Lopes know by responding to this blog or by emailing him at info@ChicagoStrokeMD.com.