AHA logoBy the year 2030, China’s population would probably dwindle due to a 73 percent increase in aging, smoking, high blood pressure and other risk factors. Also, an increase in cardiovascular disease (CVD) among the people in China has probably been noted by the investigators at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, N.Y. It has been assumed that demographic changes are to be blamed for the CVD epidemic in China in the next two decades.

The investigators reviewed risk factor surveys of Chinese adults, aged 35-84, since economic reforms in the 1980s.This data was then utilized to assume future trends in blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking, diabetes and body weight. Since, the mid 1980’s there may be a more than 10 percent decline in smoking among men. Yet, 62 percent of Chinese men still smoke, and 49 percent of nonsmokers, mostly women, are exposed to passive smoke

“China is a prime example of a middle income nation in transition. The country’s standard of living and life expectancy have improved for many, but aging, dietary changes and less physical activity are leading to more heart disease and stroke. Our study used a computer model to forecast future cardiovascular disease in Chinese adults, and is the first to project the individual and combined effects of major risk factor trends on a national scale,” sharedAndrew Moran, M.D., M.P.H., lead author and assistant professor at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, N.Y.

It has been projected that the yearly cardiovascular disease in China may possibly increase by more than 50 percent due to aging and growth of the population alone between 2010 and 2030. Also, an additional 23 percent increase may be caused due to increased trends of blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes. The investigators assume that these percentages together may translate to 21.3 million more CVD events and 7.7 million related deaths between 2010 and 2030.

Considerably reducing smoking to 20 percent of the male population by 2020 and 10 percent probably by 2030 or even lowering average systolic blood pressure four points in men and women probably may counteract adverse trends in other risk factors and prevent between 2.9 and 5.7 million deaths by 2030. However, these figures could be reduced or completely vaporized by introducing a strict anti-tobacco policy and by controlling elevated blood pressure.

Study co-author Dongfeng Gu, M.D., M.Sc., vice president of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in Beijing, China, shared that to enhance the burden of CVD, cancer and other non-communicable diseases and disabilities demographic changes play a vital role.

Gu said, “In China, as in many other parts of the world, the government has mainly focused on infectious diseases; however, China now has a ‘double burden’ of disease. If no massive preventative measures are taken, the burden of cardiovascular disease will inevitably continue to rise in China. The priority for prevention and control of cardiovascular diseases should be adequately addressed by the government and the Chinese public.”

It seems that China is now facing a major crisis with the predicted increase in mortality and morbidity due to cardiovascular disease. China is probably moving in the right direction by implementing major prevention programs. But will they be able to succeed? Whether China will be able to set an example to other countries facing similar crises will is to be seen in near future.

The study was published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, an American Heart Association journal.