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Grants from National Health and Medical Research Council for the Salt Substitute and Stroke Study

Media release: 
13/12/2018

Researchers at The George Institute for Global Health were awarded research grants from National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia to address the management of cardiovascular disease in China. 

AU$1.5 million was secured to complete the ongoing SSaSS project which is being undertaken to establish reliably whether a low-sodium salt substitute can reduce the rate of morbidity and mortality caused by stroke. High salt intake is a major cause of hypertension, which affects a massive 226 million Chinese people. 

Due to the influence of traditional Chinese cooking and dining habits, the salt intake of Chinese people has remained at a high level, far higher than the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended amount of no more than 6 grams per day for adults. This makes China one of the countries with the largest salt intake in the world. Currently in China, there are 245 million hypertensive adults, and some 435 million people with ‘high-normal’ levels of blood pressure. It is estimated that high dietary salt intake contributes to more that 1 and 10 deaths in China. 

The SSaSS study, launched in 2014, is a 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 which has involved over 21,000 adults in 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. At present, the team completed eight follow-ups of 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 study’s Principal Investigators, Professors Bruce Neal and Professor Wu Yangfeng from The George Institute for Global Health expressed their confidence in the project. 

“We hope the SSaSS study will provide a sufficient scientific basis for decision makers to prepare the community for the wide application of low-sodium salt substitute, and contribute to the improvement of CVD management.”

Professor Craig Anderson, Executive Director of The George Institute China congratulated the SSaSS team on this significant funding success. “Research funding from a prestigious and competitive body like the NHMRC is quite significant and will enable researchers to play a critical role in effectively targeting the leading causes of disease burden worldwide.  The George Institute China is privileged to have a role in this effort.”