Safe salt levels for kids – ask the experts in live webchat


London: Do you worry about what goes into your kid’s food? Do you find it difficult to know which foods are high in additives? Children are very sensitive to what they eat, particularly when it comes to salt intake. Eating a high salt diet in childhood can significantly push blood pressure up meaning children who have an excess of salt in their diet have a higher blood pressure than those who eat the right amount.

To celebrate Salt Awareness Week which takes place from the 28th of January to the 4th of February we’ve got nutritionist Jo Butten coming into the studio. She’s popping in to give you some professional guidance on how to keep your child’s salt intake down. She will also be showing you which foods have a high salt content and which foods are okay to serve up on a regular basis.

Being an expert on the effects certain foods can have on the body Jo will also be able to answer any questions you have on the long-term impact of high salt impact on you and your children. If your child’s diet is an issue that concerns you why not come along and submit a question? Knowing that you are doing everything you can for your child’s health will not only give you peace of mind but will also get you and the rest of the family into better eating practices.

Jo Butten joins us live online at on Monday 28th January at 15:00 (GMT-1) to discuss salt intake for children

If you would like to post a question in advance you can do so online here:”

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Salt blamed for high blood pressure in 4-year-olds

London: Toddlers as young ad four years, are suffering from raised blood pressure because they are eating too many salty processed foods, UK researchers say.

Campaigners claim this puts youngsters at an increased risk of hypertension in later life – potentially leading to heart disease, strokes and an early death.

The study, published in the Journal of Human Hypertension, was conducted by St George’s University Hospital in London, drew a direct correlation between the level of salt in the diet of children aged between four and 18 and higher blood pressure.

The findings will heap pressure on heart attacks and strokes could be prevented if Britons cut salt intake the manufacturers of children’s snacks and ready meals to reduce the salt levels in their recipes.

A single packet of instant noodles can contain more than the recommended daily maximum salt intake for a child aged four to six.

Just one pack of salt and vinegar crisps is likely to have more than a quarter of a child’s salt quota.

The study looked at the salt intake for more than 1,600 children and teenagers over seven days and then measured their blood pressure.

The study found that for each extra gram of salt eaten by the participants, there was a related 0.4mmHg increase in systolic blood pressure.

Children’s increasingly salty diets are also a source of concern because our food tastes are largely set in childhood. Consequently, those who develop a love of salty food when young tend to keep it in adulthood.

The UK Government experts recommend that children aged four to six should not be eating more than 3g of salt a day, while the figure for youngsters aged seven to ten is 5g.

However, many children are thought to be regularly consuming 9-10g of salt a day, which is up to three times the recommended maximum.

This pattern continues into adult life, when the recommended maximum is 6g of salt a day, but the average for men is 10.2g and 7.2g for women.

One of the study’s authors, Professor Graham MacGregor, said: ‘We know that salt acts as a chronic long-term toxin, slowly putting up blood pressure as we grow older.

“The rise in blood pressure is the major cause of death and disability in the UK.”

Nine in 10 risk high blood pressure

London: About ninety per cent of Britons are at risk from high blood pressure increasing their risk of heart disease, strokes and kidney failure if current rates continue, according to a new report in the medical magazine The Lancet.

The report claims that poor lifestyle choices such as alcohol abuse, smoking, a salt rich diet and lack of exercise have seen the incidence of high blood pressure soar.

High blood pressure also known as hypertension is also being diagnosed in adolescents and children and a global epidemic is being predicted.

Obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, a poor diet and a lack of exercise all contribute to the condition.

The report says: “Lifestyle factors, such as physical inactivity, a salt-rich diet with high processed and fatty foods, and alcohol and tobacco use, are at the heart of this increased disease burden, which is spreading at an alarming rate from developed countries to emerging economies such as India and China.

“Many patients still believe that hypertension is a disease that can be cured, and stop or reduce medication when blood pressure levels fall. Physicians need to convey the message that hypertension is the first, and easily measurable, irreversible sign that many organs in the body are under attack.

“Perhaps this message will make people think more carefully about the consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle and give preventative measures a real chance.”

High blood pressure is defined as a reading that exceeds 140/90 compared to a normal reading of about 120/80.

The first figure corresponds to the ‘surge’ of blood which occurs with each heart beat whilst the second is the ‘resting’ pressure between beats.

The medical experts also give advice on how best to treat high blood pressure.

They say that patients should take a combination of two or more drugs to control the hypertension plus statin drugs which will reduce cholesterol.

British scientists invent jab to end high blood pressure

London: A jab to control high blood pressure has been invented by British scientists.

A third of all adults suffer from high blood pressure which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Now Cheshire-based Protherics has created a vaccine, based on a protein found in limpets, which would require patients to have a three-jab course with a booster every six months.

The jab which has already been trialed successfully on humans is is a viable alternative to the current treatment where pills are given. The limpet protein in the new jab attacks a hormone called angiotensin which raises blood pressure by narrowing arteries.

Protherics is planning trials of an improved version of the jab, which is ten times more effective at stimulating the immune system than its original formula.

People who have tried it have suffered few side-effects, although one in ten did complain of a brief, flu-like illness.

A successful jab would guarantee its manufacturers a healthy share of the $24bn (£12bn)spent around the world annually on blood pressure medicines.

Ideally, patients would be given an initial course of three injections, with a week or fortnight between each jab. A booster shot every six months, or even once a year, would keep blood pressure low. The jabs will be offered privately rather than on the UK’s NHS public health service.

Another company, the Swiss firm Cytos Biotechnology is developing a similar vaccine using an empty virus shell to spur the immune system into action.

Zurich-based Cytos, which is also developing anti-smoking, obesity and flu vaccines, has already shown that its jab is effective at lowering blood pressure.

But the reduction was less than that achieved by tablets already available on prescription. Further trials are due to later this year.

In time, the vaccine may be given to ward off problems in young men and women with a family history of heart disease.

Various blood pressure tablets already on the market work by targeting angiotensin, either by cutting production of the hormone or by stopping it from working properly. But many people stop taking the daily tablets simply because there are no obvious signs that they are boosting their health.

Others give up after suffering side effects. Beta blockers, a major type of blood pressure pill, can cause fatigue, cold hands and feet, nausea, diarrhoea and impotence. They have also been linked to the risk of stroke.

Milk protein lowers blood pressure

New Orleans: Milk contains a protein that can lower blood pressure significantly.

A trial of 140 patients carried out at Tulane University demonstrated a drop in blood pressure of between trhee and five percent.

The results from this study mean that protein supplements could be used in the prevention and treatment of high blood pressure in the general population.

Just how proteins from milk work is not clear, although it is known that other foods, such as salt, potassium and alcohol, can have an effect on blood pressure.

Now a bigger clinical trial has been launched to investigate the effects and to compare it to proteins found in soy, which researchers believe may have a similar effect.

Those taking part will get 40g of milk or soy protein supplements, or a placebo, for eight weeks.

Will you get dementia?

Stockholm: Scientists have developed a two-minute test that can access the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

There are seven lifestyle questions on age, education, health and exercise yield a personal score out of the highest of 15, which is then translated into a personal risk level. The higher the score, the more likely dementia will develop within 20 years.
The aim of the test is to shock those at risk into making lifestyle changes necessary to reduce the danger.

Accuracy is estimated at around 70 per cent The test. Those who score highest are estimated to have a 16 per cent chance of developing the disease while those at the lower end have one per cent, according to a report in The Lancet Neurology.

The number of cases of Alzheimer’s is on the increase and presently there is no cure and no predictive testing other than a genetic test.

Though it is generally recognised that there are some risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, not taking exercise, poor diet and high levels of the substance homocysteine in the blood. These may combine years before the disease to create an environment for Alzheimer’s to develop.

The doctors looked at the health of more than 1,400 middle-aged people from Finland to device the scorecard. They looked at their health when they were around 50 and then 20 years later examined them for signs of dementia.

Those who are obese or have high blood pressure or high cholesterol are twice as likely to develop dementia. Scoring badly on all three fronts raises the risk sixfold.

Swedish neurologist Dr Miia Kivipelto, who developed the scorecard, said it could change the face of dementia treatment and gave doctors and patients a better chance in intervention.

High blood pressure


High blood pressure can be a sign of other diseases such as clogged or weakened arteries. Blood pressure is a measurement of the force the heart uses to pump blood through the arteries and the capillaries around the body. The measurement of this pressure is a key determinator of health. The higher your blood pressure rate, the harder your heart has to work, forcing the blood through arteries which may have narrowed or become stiff. The strain of pumping the blood at high pressure can cause vessels to become clogged or to weaken, and this can lead to narrow blood vessels and clots which can damage the heart or brain. This is what doctors call essential hypertension. A safe level for blood pressure is 140/90mmHg (millimetres of mercury).

A small number of people have secondary hypertension, which means there is an underlying cause of their high blood pressure – problems with their kidneys or adrenal glands (which sit above the kidneys). These glands produce hormones that are important in controlling blood pressure. As well as causing heart failure and stroke, high blood pressure can also lead to kidney failure.

Those from a Black or South-East Asian background are more likely to have high blood pressure, as is anyone suffering from diabetes, kidney disease or heart disease. Blood pressure also increases with age and more for those over the age of 75. There are usually no symptoms so the only way to find out is to have a test. Doctors believe that even those with a healthy blood pressure should take steps to lower it further. There are home testing kits available.

Patients who are found to have high blood pressure will also be asked to take blood and urine tests and even an ECG, heart test. If no particular cause is evident patients will be asked to make changes to their lifestyles such as cutting down on salt intake, eating more fruit and vegetables, taking more exercise, loosing weight and cutting down on alcohol.

The two main lifestyle risk factors for high blood pressure are smoking and eating a diet high in saturated fats. Smoking causes arteries to narrow. So if you smoke and have high blood pressure, your arteries will narrow much more quickly. Saturated animal and some vegetable oils, such as palm and coconut oil, increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, which can clog arteries. Coupled with hypertension, this puts you at a greater risk of heart disease and stroke. We should all cut down on red meat, avoid processed meat products such as sausages, pate and bacon, and eat low-fat dairy products.

Doctors usually avoid giving drugs but the medications for high blood pressure include: Diuretics – (water tablets) such as Thiazide Bendrofluazide, Chlorothiazide, Chlorthalidone, Cyclopenthiazide, Hydrochlorothiazide and Indapamide. These help rid the body of salt and water. Side-effects may include skin rashes, gout (do not take if you have gout) and impotence.

These tablets are often used with other tablets for blood pressure. Beta-blockers: such as Acebutolol, Oxprenolol, Atenolol, Pindolol, Bisoprolol, Propranolol, Sotalol, Timolol, Labetalol and Metoprolol. Beta blockers prevent stimulation of the beta adrenergic receptors at the nerve endings of the sympathetic nervous system and decrease the activityof the heart, relaxing blood vessels. Side-effects can include tiredness,sleep problems, cold hands and feet and asthma (don’t take if you have asthma).

Calcium-channel blockers: such as Amlodipine, Nisoldipine, Diltiazem, Verapamil, Felodipine, Isradipine, Lacidipine, Nicardipine and Nifedipine. These open up the blood vessels making it easier for the heart to work. Possible side-effects are swollen ankles, passing urine during the night (especially in men), swollen and bleeding gums, headaches, hot flushes and constipation. Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) inhibitors: such as Captopril, Perindopril, Cilazapril, Quinapril, Enalapril, Ramipril, Fosinopril, Trandolapril and Lisinopril. These act on hormones help to open up the blood vessels.

Side-effects can include a dry cough and allergies, with swelling around the mouth and throat. Alpha-blockers: such as Doxazosin and Terazosin. These block receptors in the blood vessels, lowering blood pressure. Side-effects can include stress, incontinence in women and dizziness. Centrally acting drugs: such as Clonidine, Methyldopa and Moxonidine. These work through the brain to lower blood pressure. Side-effects may include drowsiness and nasal stuffiness.

For information and a free booklet on hypertension call the Blood Pressure Association (BPA) on 020 8772 4994.