Study on salt substitute is expected to generate high quality evidence and reduce stroke

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in China and is closely associated with high blood pressure. Excessive salt intake is responsible for high blood pressure. Therefore, understanding the effects of sodium reduction and salt substitutes on serious vascular outcomes like stroke will be of great importance.

Founded by Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the China Salt Substitute and Stroke Study (SSaSS) is thus designed to demonstrate if reduced-sodium salt substitute, as a proven strategy for blood pressure reduction, can reduce stroke in rural China, where the burden of CVD is even severer than in urban areas due to the limited health care resources and knowledge.

As the first large-scale, adequately powered, unconfounded study to address a key scientific question for global health, this five year trial represents an once-in-a-lifetime research opportunity to generate high quality evidence that has large scientific and policy impacts not only in China but also globally.

The study is implemented on the current China Rural Health Initiative (CRHI) research platform, which involved five provinces in northern China: Liaoning, Ningxia, Shanxi, Shannxi and Hebei. In addition, Tibet is included in this study as new collaboration has been established in this area since the completion of CRHI.

“Our study will be conducted among 600 villages in rural China with a total of 21,000 participants,” Dr Maoyi TIAN, Research Fellow at TGI @ PUHSC introduced, “The intervention will be free supply of salt substitutes to cover household cooking and food preservation requirements. Every six months, the participants will be followed and inquired through telephone calls about the occurrence of stroke, hospitalisations for other causes and diagnoses of serious illnesses. We expect that this five year intervention will bring positive impact and important change to the high-risk stroke patients.”

The study has been kicked-off first in Liaoning province in March, 2014; Shanxi will be the second launching province on July 17, 2014.