Experts from China and Australia congregate in Qingdao to promote SSaSS study

On September 19 2018, the ‘Salt Substitute and Stroke Study (SSaSS) Annual Meeting 2018’ was held in Qingdao. Over 50 participants joined the meeting to review progress on the study and exchange experiences. Those who attended the meeting included Principal Investigators from China and Australia, Project Coordinators from provincial study centers, and government officials from local Disease Control and Prevention Centers and Public Health Systems.

The SSaSS study, is a 5-year long, large-scale, cluster randomized controlled trial (Cluster-RCT) undertaken by The George Institute for Global Health in Australia and The George Institute, China, in collaboration with local prestige medical schools and government institutions across 5 northern provinces (Liaoning, Hebei, Shanxi, Ningxia, and Shaanxi). The study is one of the largest health research projects in China including approximately 21,000 adults from 600 villages. The primary objective of the study is to evaluate whether a low-sodium salt substitute in the diet can reduce the risk of stroke. The secondary objective is to determine the effect of a low-sodium salt substitute on major cardiovascular events (including heart attack) and whether this lifestyle modification can improve long-term survival.

The study’s Principal Investigators, Professors Bruce Neal and Wu Yangfeng, provided a warm welcome and expressed their gratitude to all participants for their commitment over several years, and acknowledged their tremendous efforts in overcoming various obstacles to ensure every success of the project.

In the past year, the team completed the fifth and sixth stages of follow-up of the participants by visiting them in their home. In addition, an assessment was made of how well the study was being conducted across the provinces. The researchers also explored the feasibility and validity of using the new rural corporative medical and death registration systems to allow assessment of major adverse health events in participants over a longer period. Altogether the project teams have completed their work across 300 villages each year, collected 5,059 spot and 5458 24 hour duration, urine samples, and conducted 84391 home-visits on participants.

“Stroke, heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases are the major killers in the world, but mortality rates are particular high in China.” Professor Wu said, “More than 40 cases out of every 100 deaths in China are caused by cardiovascular diseases.

“If SSaSS really works and proves that low-sodium salt can reduce the cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, it will undoubtedly provide a sufficient scientific basis for decision makers to prepare the community for the wide application of low-sodium salt substitute.”

After Ms. Hao Zhixin, Senior Project Manager at The George Institute China, shared her experience in overseeing the study, the participants had an effective discussion on further plans, study achievements, close-out plans and the feasibility of extending the collaboration with further research.