A worldwide effort to lower people's blood pressure, cut sodium intake and eliminate trans fat from their diet could prevent 94 million premature deaths from cardiovascular disease (CVD) over a quarter century, says a study.
Regions expected to benefit most from the interventions include East Asia, the Pacific, and South Asia, as well as countries in sub-Saharan Africa, said the study published online in the journal Circulation
"Focusing our resources on the combination of these three interventions can have a huge potential impact on cardiovascular health through 2040," said lead author Goodarz Danaei, Associate Professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
For the study, the researchers used global data from multiple studies and estimates from the World Health Organization in making their calculations.
They estimated that scaling up treatment of high blood pressure to 70 percent of the world's population could extend the lives of 39.4 million people.
Cutting sodium intake by 30 percent could stave off another 40 million deaths and could also help decrease high blood pressure, a major risk factor for CVD.
And eliminating trans fat could prevent 14.8 million early deaths.
More than half of all delayed deaths, and two-thirds of deaths delayed before 70 years, are projected to be among men, the researchers found.
The authors said a variety of programs and policies would be necessary to reduce premature CVD-related deaths. One important strategy would be to increase the use of blood pressure medications, many of which are safe and affordable.
The research team acknowledged that scaling up the three interventions would be a "huge challenge," requiring countries to commit additional resources to boost health care capacity and quality.