Asia Minute: Study Shows Blood Pressure Spiking in China

Aug 17, 2016

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In recent years, China has moved up the global rankings in a number of measures. Those include the size of the country’s economy and the growth of its middle class. But the country is also moving up the scale in at least one negative area as well. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Heart disease is a big growth area for China.  The latest Journal of the American College of Cardiology out this week includes the first study of its kind looking at a range of risk factors in China over a number of decades.

The news is not encouraging.

Researchers analyzed information about 26,000 people across 9 provinces from 1991 to 2011—finding that cases of obesity, high blood sugar and high cholesterol are all on the rise.

High blood pressure is one of the biggest issues.  In 1979, high blood pressure affected less than 8% of China’s population.  That was a landmark year in China—Deng Xiaoping came to the United States and the country began to slowly open its economy to the outside world.  It was also the year the United States officially recognized the Beijing government…and more western influences started to trickle into mainland China.

2008 was the year of the Beijing Olympics…and that year the official Xinhua news agency ran a story saying 15% of Chinese suffered from high blood pressure—nearly double the rate of 1979.

Now, according to the latest study, the rate has doubled again—and more than a third of Chinese experience high blood pressure—giving the dubious distinction of catching up to the level of high blood pressure in the United States.