I recently read an article indicating hypertension - or high blood pressure - as the leading preventable cause of premature deaths in China. As I was reading, it made me realize how similar healthcare issues in China and the U.S. truly are.
The article, published October 7, 2009 in Medical News Today1, highlighted the findings of Professor Jiang He of Tulane University School of Public Health published in the November issue of The Lancet.
The article states the prevalence of hypertension in the Chinese population is high and increasing while awareness, treatment and control are low. The authors cite a survey where roughly 153 million Chinese adults met the criteria for hypertension with only 24% awareness of their condition and less than 24% of those had their blood pressure under control.
This reminded me of statistics the American Heart Association (AHA) had published in 20072. According to those statistics, about 74.5 million people in the U.S. age 20 or older had hypertension, or 1 in every 3 people. Of these, 77% are aware of their condition while only 44% of those have their blood pressure under control. Clearly, while hypertension awareness in China is an area that needs to be addressed, both the U.S. and China struggle to manage hypertensive patients to keep blood pressure under control.
It's been my experience in speaking with colleagues at Chinese medical device and healthcare organizations that awareness of hypertension and its related morbidity outcomes is rapidly increasing. One example is the rising interest we have seen in ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) as the recognized gold standard to monitor blood pressure and help identify and treat hypertension. While still underutilized here in the U.S., I'm hopeful ABPM will become recognized in China for its unique advantages in blood pressure measurement and its role in guiding appropriate hypertensive treatment. Perhaps this will help China realize better hypertension control statistics than what the U.S. has been able to achieve to date.
MD&DI, December 2009
American Heart Association, High Blood Pressure Statistics, 2007