Marco Pierre White supports global call to action to reduce dietary salt intake and improve heart health on World Hypertension Day

* Over 40 countries participating in worldwide public events to support World Hypertension Day 2009 * Internationally acclaimed chef supports global initiative to highlight link between salt and high blood pressure * Halving daily salt intake could save approximately 2.5 million people a year dying from strokes and heart attacks worldwide[1] Vancouver, May 17, 2009 - Internationally acclaimed Michelin-starred chef Marco Pierre White is supporting a global campaign launched today by the World Hypertension League to encourage more people to adopt a healthy, low salt diet to tackle the problem of high blood pressure. High blood pressure affects over 1.5 billion people around the world1. Excess salt raises blood pressure[2], which is the number one risk factor for cardiovascular disease, the number one cause of death worldwide[3]. More than 40 countries are participating in a series of public events to support World Hypertension Day 2009, now in its fifth year. These events aim to highlight that reducing daily salt intake by half could save approximately 2.5 million people a year dying from strokes and heart attacks worldwide[1]. Marco explains: "An individual's palette is normally established during childhood and by the time we become an adult we have already acquired a strong taste for salt, which can result in us eating more than we need. I am supporting World Hypertension Day to encourage people to manage their salt intake more effectively. We can all take simple steps to reduce the level of salt in our diets such as avoiding processed, pre-packaged foods and using citrus fruit, herbs and spices instead of salt to enhance flavour." In many countries, the daily salt intake is around 12g - more than double the amount considered necessary by the World Health Organisation (WHO)[4]. Research has shown that in addition to restricting salt intake there are a number of lifestyle changes, such as taking regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, giving up smoking and eating healthy foods lower in salt, which can contribute to the prevention of high blood pressure and reduction of cardiovascular risk[5]. Dr Arun Chockalingam, Secretary General of the World Hypertension League said: "The goal of this year's World Hypertension Day is to encourage people to think about the amount of salt in their diet and the impact of excess salt on their blood pressure. A small reduction in salt consumption can be extremely effective in reducing blood pressure and its associated cardiovascular risks, and will result in a major improvement in public health." High blood pressure occurs when there is an increase in blood volume and/or blood vessels constrict, forcing the heart to work harder to pump blood to supply oxygen and nutrients to various organs in the body. Salt causes the body to retain water, with excess levels resulting in an increase in blood volume and high blood pressure. High blood pressure in turn causes hardening and thickening of blood vessels, therefore increasing the stress on the heart which has to pump blood through narrowed arteries. In some cases, this can lead to heart failure or inability of the heart to pump sufficient blood to meet the demands of the body. World Hypertension Day, initiated by the World Hypertension League in 2005, is an international event with public activities taking place around the world to raise awareness of the health importance of good blood pressure control. World Hypertension Day is supported globally by Novartis. For more information about World Hypertension Day events in your country, contact your national hypertension society or visit our website at www.worldhypertensionleague.org About the World Hypertension League The World Hypertension League (WHL) is a federation of leagues, societies, and other national bodies devoted to promote the detection, control and prevention of arterial hypertension in populations. Individual membership is not possible. The thrust of the WHL's action is in liaison with the member organizations, promoting the exchange of information among them, and offering internationally applicable methods and programs for hypertension control. Bringing together and stimulating organizations committed to the control of hypertension is the goal and raison d'être of the WHL. The WHL is a division of the International Society of Hypertension (ISH), and is in official relations with the World Health Organization (WHO). References [1] World Hypertension League Brochure 2009. Available at: http://www.worldhypertensionleague.org/Documents/WHD/2009/WHD%20Brochure%20English%20-%202009.pdf. Last accessed April 2009. [2] Sacks FM et al. Effects on blood pressure of reduced dietary sodium and the dietary approaches to stop hypertension. New England Journal of Medicine. 2001;344:3-10. [3]World Health Organization. Cardiovascular disease factsheet. Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs317/en/index.html. Last accessed April 2009. [4] Feng JH, MacGregor GA. How far should salt intake be reduced. Hypertension. 2003;42:1093-1099. [5] Writing Group of the PREMIER Collaborative Research Group. Effects of comprehensive lifestyle modification on blood pressure control: main results of the PREMIER clinical trial. JAMA. 2003;289(10):2083-2093. # # # Media contacts Beth Williams Ruder Finn Email: Bwilliams@ruderfinn.co.uk Tel: +44 (0)7841 009 252 Dr. Arun Chockalingam, Secretary-General, World Hypertension League Email: whlsec@sfu.ca Tel: +1 778-782-7176 This announcement was originally distributed by Hugin. The issuer is solely responsible for the content of this announcement.