China on brink of heart disease 'epidemic': study

MIAMI (AFP) - Unhealthy eating, smoking and obesity are threatening a heart disease epidemic in China, where three out of four people are in poor cardiovascular shape, said a study on Monday.

The findings published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology are based on data from 96,000 men and women in the general Chinese population.

Health was classified as ideal, intermediate or poor according to seven behaviours and lifestyle factors set out by the American Heart Association: smoking status, body mass index, physical activity, diet, untreated total cholesterol, untreated blood pressure, and untreated fasting plasma glucose levels.

Just 0.2 per cent of men and women in world's most populous country were found to be in "ideal" cardiovascular health, the study found.

Only five per cent of men and 22 per cent of women ranked "ideal" in terms of four leading health factors: body mass index, physical activity, diet and not smoking.

Cardiovascular disease is currently the leading cause of death in China, and the prevalence of diabetes in China has more than doubled over the past decade.

"Without effective intervention, cardiovascular disease will become epidemic in the near future in China," said the study led by Yufang Bi and senior author Guang Ning of Shanghai Jiao-Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China.

"Of the seven metrics, adhering to a healthy diet was the least common among all cardiovascular health metrics at 1.6 per cent and similar between men and women," said the study.

Doctors urged China to adopt a nationwide strategy for improving the health of its citizens.

"While China is tremendously advanced technologically, the country faces a terrible burden of cardiovascular disease, as demonstrated by this study and others," said Valentin Fuster, editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

"The nation would benefit from a strategic country-wide approach aimed at lessening each of the risk factors, along with regional and individual educational efforts."

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