Experts urge heart disease prevention
Updated: 2014-04-09 21:10
By Shan Juan (chinadaily.com.cn)
With one death every 10 seconds from cardiovascular disease in China, top experts are urging enhanced efforts toward prevention and intervention.
Hu Dayi, chief of the Heart Centre at Peking University People's Hospital and president of the Chinese Society of Cardiology, made the remarks at an even to raise public awareness.
"Prevention has not been a priority in China," Hu said. "For the last 20 to 30 years, the medical system has mainly been treating the late stages of heart disease."
Statistics from the National Health and Family Planning Commission showed that cardiovascular disease kills 2.6 million people in China each year and accounts for at least half the disease burden in China.
Dwight W. Clark, founder of the US-Sino HeartCare Center, agreed, saying that the challenges to preventive heart care are similar the world over.
"A lot of people will not go to a health professional unless they are having symptoms. The challenge is to educate the public that it’s necessary to begin preventive measures before they become symptomatic, so the disease can be averted," he said.
This is particularly important with heart disease because the first symptom in 50 percent of the cases is sudden death, he said. And that can be prevented with appropriate measures.
However, regular checks of blood pressure and cholesterol are not enough to prevent heart attacks and strokes, Hu said.
According to Hu, advanced tools, particularly a procedure known as a coronary calcium scan, have proved effective in identifying cardiovascular disease potential long before any symptoms show up.
"Thereafter, timely intervention to halt, or even reverse, heart disease could be possible," Clark said.
A person's calcium score is the most powerful predictor of future cardiac events and guides doctors in recommending individualized treatment plans, he said.
Intervention efforts include lifestyle changes, medications if needed and maintenance guidance.
He suggested that men over 35 and women older than 40 be screened regularly for early detection and treatment if they suffer high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol or live with significant levels of stress. Those who smoke or have a family history of heart attacks should also be screened, he said.