Dr. Mitchell S. V. Elkind, a member of the American Heart Association’s Board of Directors, is gravely concerned about the high rates of hypertension in New York City. And he’s pushing the city to do something about it.
Dr. Elkind recently submitted testimony to the New York City Board of Public Health, supporting the proposal to place a warning icon next to restaurant menu items when food possesses a dangerous level of sodium.
In a recent interview, Dr. Elkind, a neurology and epidemiology professor at Columbia University in New York, stated that “people really have no idea how much salt they’re eating, and many would be shocked to discover they can get their full recommended daily salt intake at a single meal, or even a single dish. We have to educate them every step of the way, instead of just putting out a pamphlet that nobody reads. Educating people at the place where they’re actually eating could make a big difference.”
In his comments to the Board of Health, Dr. Elkind emphasized that dietary salt consumption is one of the most important, modifiable factors that can impact one’s blood pressure. If we reduced our individual salt intake, even slightly, we could prevent as many as 32,000 deaths per year.
In research published in 2012, Dr. Elkind worked with a team of clinicians and epidemiologists to analyze data from a cohort study designed to determine stroke incidence, risk factors, and prognosis in a multiethnic urban population from northern Manhattan. Their findings underscore the need for public health initiatives, like the proposal in NYC, to reduce the sodium level in our food supply.
Dr. Elkind, as an advocate for the American Heart Association, looks forward to the NYC Board of Health’s vote on the Sodium Warning Icon proposal and its swift implementation this winter.