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China's doctors should give up smoking

16th October 2012

A top Chinese cardiologist has called on the country's doctors to lead the way in setting an example of a healthy lifestyle, in a bid to stave the rising tide of cardiovascular disease.


According to Professor Hu Dayi, head of the heart centre at Beijing University's People's Hospital, China needs to take urgent action including smoking bans in public places, restrictions on salt content in food and better blood pressure control.

Hu said that around 50% of male physicians in China smoke, and should start to kick the habit to set a good example.

Three million Chinese people die annually from cardiovascular disease, a rate of one death every 10 seconds, Hu said.

China's medical system has largely focused on treating the later stages of heart disease, and prevention has not been a focus in public health policy.

However, with cardiovascular disease accounting for more than 40% of all deaths, the country would do well to begin widespread promotion of lifestyle changes, Hu told an international conference of cardiologists in Beijing.

Panos Vardas, who heads the European delegation to the conference, said his team would compare results of Chinese and European registries while it was in China, because they are important tools for monitoring lifestyle changes.

He said he would also discuss the implementation of the latest EU best practice with his Chinese counterparts.

China has seen breakneck economic growth and rapid industrialisation over the past three or more decades of economic reform.

In 1978, at the end of the Mao era, just 18% of Chinese people lived in cities, compared with a projected 55% by 2015.

The lifestyle of ordinary Chinese has changed dramatically as a result.

The number of Chinese smokers looks set to rise to 430 million by 2032, compared with 350 million today, and smokers of both sexes are taking up the habit younger.

China is in the grip of an epidemic of high blood pressure, with some 200 million people diagnosed with hypertension across all age groups.

However, prevention methods and health education about prevention are virtually non-existent, with only 24% of patients receiving medication and just 6% having their blood pressure under control.

While 80% of US patients with hypertension are aware that they have it, only 24% of Chinese who have high blood pressure know it.


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