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High blood pressure growing threat to health

By Wang Qingyun (China Daily)

09:26, April 08, 2013

Li Bin, minister in charge of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, chats with residents on Sunday at Zhanlanlu Community Health Center in Beijing, where an activity was organized to prevent high blood pressure. (China Daily/Wang Jing)

The number of people with high blood pressure is increasing at a rapid pace, and community intervention is vital to prevent the disease from posing a heavy burden on China's public health and economy, experts said on Sunday, World Health Day.

"It's estimated based on previous surveys that 24 percent of Chinese people over age 15 have high blood pressure," said Wang Wen, vice-chairman of the Chinese Hypertension League. "This means there are about 260 million such patients in the country."

"The cost to treat cardiovascular disease is increasing much faster than the pace of China's GDP. High blood pressure is a major cause of the ongoing increase of such diseases. It has helped develop two-thirds of the cardiovascular conditions," said Hu Shengshou, director of the National Center for Cardiovascular Disease.

China conducted three national surveys on blood pressure - in 1959, 1979 and 1991 - and found the prevalence of the disease among people older than 15 rose from about 5 percent to 11 percent.

In 2002, a survey on Chinese people's diet and health found that more than 18 percent of the Chinese older than 18 have high blood pressure.

According to Wang, the number of patients nationwide has also increased from less than 100 million in 1991 to 260 million in 2012.

The National Center for Cardiovascular Disease started a new national survey in 2012. Though it is not yet completed, the prevalence of high blood pressure will probably hit a new high, Hu said.

The communities are the "main battlefield" to help treat the huge number of patients, he said.

Zhanlanlu Community Health Center in Beijing is among the first of its kind in China to carry out high blood pressure monitoring and prevention advocacy.

Chang Shuling, director of the center, said the community has sponsored regular lectures and free consultations to persuade people to change unhealthy lifestyles and help patients manage their blood pressure.

She said there are more than 20,000 people in the community living with high blood pressure, accounting for more than 22 percent of its population.

"The center and its seven healthcare stations are tracking the condition of 13,000 patients by measuring their blood pressure at least four times a year and offering them prescriptions to control blood pressure," said Chang, who has worked at the center for 16 years.

She admitted that the disease is becoming more common in the community and patients are getting younger.

"Most of the patients coming to us are retirees, but in recent years we started to have people in their 20s and 30s coming to us for treatment, as they tend to lack exercise, consume fatty foods, stay up late at night and are usually under great pressure from work," she said.

"One of our tasks is reducing the risks among this kind of people by intervening and changing their unhealthy habits."

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