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Urgent action needed on CVD death in China

Urgent actions including smoking bans in public places, salt restrictions and improved blood pressure control are needed to fight rising cardiovascular disease (CVD) in China, according to a statement from the Chinese Society of Cardiology (CSC).

“Every year 3,000,000 Chinese people die from CVD and every 10 seconds there is one death from CVD in China,” said Professor Dayi Hu, president of the CSC. Professor Hu was speaking ahead of the 23rd Great Wall International Congress of Cardiology and Asia Pacific Heart Congress, held recently in Beijing, China.

He added:  “Prevention has not been a priority in China because for the last 20 to 30 years the medical system has mainly been treating the late stages of heart disease. The number of patients treated with stents has increased dramatically”.

European Society of Cardiology (ESC) President Panos Vardas headed the European delegation to the Congress as part of the ESC’s Global Scientific Activities (GSA) programme. He said: “The ESC is delighted to return to China, where I anticipate fruitful discussions between Chinese and European experts on how the latest ESC Clinical Practice Guidelines on Prevention can be applied. I also look forward to comparing the results of Chinese and European registries, since we know that registries are an important tool for monitoring lifestyle behaviours and implementation of guidelines”.

Smoking is a massive problem in Chinese men, said Professor Hu: “Half of male physicians are smokers and one-third of Chinese male cardiologists are smokers, so it’s a real problem”.

“We need to work together with the big hospitals to improve the control of hypertension,” Professor Hu continued. “It will also be important to measure blood pressure levels of people living in rural areas so that we can identify people with hypertension”.

Tobacco control measures he suggested include:

  • Banning smoking in public places
  • increasing taxes on tobacco
  • enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship
  • helping smokers to quit and warning about the dangers of smoking.

China does not have national laws to ban smoking in public areas and there is no central government policy. There are some smoke free hospitals and some cities and provinces have instigated smoking bans in public areas but Professor Hu said these efforts are not sufficient.

He said: “The government needs to make strict laws to prohibit smoking in public places. The Chinese Society of Cardiology plans to work with the government to control tobacco. Given the high level of smoking in male physicians and cardiologists, efforts to quit should start with them.”

“In China we should educate the public through television to eat less salt,” Professor Hu added. “We also need to promote healthy cafeteria food with a lower salt content because many children eat in the school cafeteria and many working people eat lunch and dinner in the company cafeteria rather than at home”.

Obesity has increased in China, with unhealthy lifestyles starting at a young age. Professor Hu said: “We should do more health promotion and health education at a population level, starting with children, to encourage people to do more exercise and to eat healthy food”.

“I think a healthy China has to be started from the healthy physician,” said Professor Hu. “Physicians and cardiologists need to quit smoking, eat healthily, exercise and control their body weight so that they can be a good example for patients and the public, and effectively promote CVD prevention measures with the government, pharmaceutical companies and food manufacturers. I believe that if there is no healthy physician there will be no healthy China”.

Published on: October 19, 2012

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