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A Large-scale Heart Epidemic Is Coming Its Way In Asia

Poverty is no longer a major problem for Asian countries following the dramatic economic development in recent years especially for China and India. Changes in diet coupled with increasingly inactive lifestyles have caused the rate of obesity to go up in several Asian countries. For example, the risk of obesity in India is highest in the 20% of the population that consumes 80% of visible dietary fat. The school surveys in Indian cities also show that 30% of adolescents from India's higher economic groups are overweight.

A medical report released in 2004 had warned that cardiovascular disease (CVD) is set to pose a major threat to health and wealth in Asia, with smoking, increasing obesity, and rising levels of cholesterol and blood pressure.

The 5-year study was conducted the Asia Pacific Cohort Studies Collaboration, combining data from 659,000 participants in 46 studies in 9 countries – China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, New Zealand and Australia. The results have indicated that a large-scale epidemic is poised to hit many countries in the region. During the study, evidence about the effects of the rapidly increasing rates of smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, was found, especially in the urban areas.

Unless immediate steps are taken to implement prevention programs, the number of Asians who will die or be disabled by heart disease will be far greater than that ever seen in the West. Many of the victims will be in the prime of their working lives, since heart disease strikes at a much younger age in Asia than in the West.

The cost of heart disease in countries such as China will be vast. Not only will there be huge expenses associated with the treatment of heart attacks, but also the loss of earnings for victims and their families will have devastating economic consequences.

CVD includes heart, stroke and blood vessel disease and is the world’s leading killer, accounting for 16.7 million, or 20 percent, of total global deaths in 2003. Around 80 percent of CVD deaths took place in low- and middle-income countries, with the disease often striking during prime working years.

China’s stroke rates are 4 times higher than the Western world, and although its heart disease rates are still manageable at present, it is expected to rise rapidly, in particular in urban areas and for young people. If nothing is done to curb the high rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking and cholesterol in coming years, the past CVD epidemics in Western world will be insignificance as compared to what is to be seen in Asia in the hear future.

 

 

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