BY AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

Illustration of salt on a spoonMost Americans continue to consume too much sodium despite dietary guidelines or existing health conditions, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About nine in 10 U.S. adults and children eat more than the daily recommended amount of sodium, a statistic CDC director Tom Frieden, M.D., called “alarming.”

“The evidence is clear: too much sodium in our foods leads to high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke,” Frieden said in a news release.

Cardiovascular diseases kill more than 800,000 Americans each year and cost nearly $320 billion each year in health care and lost productivity, according to the CDC.

Updated federal dietary guidelines, also released Thursday, recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300 milligrams per day for people over age 14, and less for those younger. The American Heart Association recommends that most U.S. adults aim to eat no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day.

“The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest limiting sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day for individuals over the age of 14 and points out the benefit of 1,500 mg per day for those with prehypertension and hypertension,” said AHA Chief Executive Nancy Brown.

“While AHA generally recommends less than 1,500 mg per day, the overall focus on lowering sodium could help improve millions of lives and help Americans take control of their heart health,” she said.

People already at increased risk for heart disease are also eating too much salt, the report said. Among African-Americans, people ages 51 and older and people with high blood pressure or prehypertension, more than three out of four exceed 2,300 mg per day. Just among adults with high blood pressure, 86 percent of them consume too much sodium, according to the report.

CDC researchers analyzed dietary data from nearly 15,000 Americans.

While some food manufacturers and restaurants have voluntarily reduced sodium in their foods, more than three-quarters of sodium in the American diet is estimated to come from processed and restaurant foods, according to the CDC.

“Reducing sodium in manufactured and restaurant foods will give consumers more choice and save lives,” Frieden said.

Editor’s note: Nancy Brown’s quote was added on 1/8/2016.