According to preliminary data from the Ministry of Health’s Mortality Information System (SIM), 302,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease, which have as their main risk factor hypertension, were recorded in Brazil in 2017 alone. Adult Health (ELSA-Brasil), which has been monitoring the health of 15,000 employees in six Brazilian state capitals for over ten years, can help to understand the main risk factors for so-called “high blood pressure” in the population.

In Bahia, the study is developed at UFBA, under the coordination of the Institute of Collective Health (ISC), which investigates the life habits of about 2,000 university employees. Among ELSA-Brazil participants, 35.8% were diagnosed with hypertension. Research also points out that increased consumption of ultra-processed foods such as soda, crackers, sauces, and seasonings, as well as salt intake, which can reach twice the ideal value, contributes to increased overweight and abdominal fat, known condition for the occurrence of hypertension.

The researchers compared the diet of three groups of people born in different decades, aged 35 to 74 years. For the younger group, called Generation X (35-45 years old), ultra-processed products, those made with the addition of ingredients such as salt, sugar, oils and fats, represented on average 45.9% of the food consumed. . At the same time, the healthiest ones, such as fruits and vegetables, accounted for 26.9% of the total diet. Such eating habits indicate that they may age with a greater burden of chronic diseases.

Consumption of ultra-processed foods also contributes to the high salt intake. In the study population, only 16% consumes a maximum of 5g of salt daily, the limit recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). The average consumption was more than double: 11g per day. The amount of salt ingested by hypertensive patients is even more striking. Among them, the average reached 12g.

The data are the result of several face-to-face interviews and examinations with participants, who individually receive the results of the tests and measurements performed. According to the professor of the Institute of Collective Health of UFBA and coordinator of ELSA-Brazil in Salvador, Sheila Alvim, conducting the study in large metropolises of the country is of strategic importance, as it represents the place of residence of growing portions of the Brazilian population (households urban areas).

“The applicability of the results obtained in relation to the Brazilian adult population is supported by similarities in the prevalence of some behavioral risk factors and chronic conditions evaluated in ELSA-Brasil and Vigitel (annual telephone survey with data representative of the Brazilian population of the 27 capitals of the country. and Federal District). In addition, the results of our studies indicate that the dietary patterns of ELSA-Brazil participants are no different from the rest of the Brazilian population, ”says the teacher.

In all, 250 scientific articles have been published based on ELSA-Brasil. The next stage of the study with exams and face-to-face interviews should begin in 2021.