Hypertension hits China

Diets have changed, and so has blood pressure.

Medisave UK

Medisave UK

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China, with its massive population, has a massive cardiovascular problem.

Researchers at Yale’s Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation (CORE) and the Chinese National Center for Cardiovascular Disease recently finished the largest-ever study of hypertension in China. The research spanned all 31 of the nation’s mainland provinces and involved 1.7 million people, and it showed that over 40 percent of China’s 1.1 billion adults have high blood pressure. Fewer than a third are being treated, and only about 7 percent have the condition under control. Uncontrolled hypertension, which can damage the heart, brain, and kidneys, is a significant risk factor for stroke—which causes one in five deaths in China annually.

The increasing incidence of hypertension, as well as other chronic non-communicable diseases, involves many factors: an aging population, increased urbanization, higher obesity rates, and dietary changes. A second study by the same research group, also published in the Lancet, showed that a major contributor to poor hypertension control is lack of access to medication. Nearly 10 percent of health centers carry no hypertension medications at all, and only 37 percent stock the four needed classes of medication.

Funded by the Chinese government, the studies will help inform the development of systems and strategies as China pursues its own health care reform agenda. At the same time, says Yale professor of medicine Harlan Krumholz ’80—the director of CORE and co–senior author on both studies—“collaborations like this are a great opportunity to study health and disease with a large sample size.”

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