Study warns of growing cardiovascular disease epidemic in China

Bethesda, MD As more people in China adopt Western diets and lifestyles, many are developing a cluster of cardiovascular disease risk factors, according to a new study in the April 18, 2006, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

"The metabolic syndrome has become increasingly common in this Asian population and the prevalence is about to catch up with that in Western populations. That's a very dangerous sign in terms of cardiovascular disease," said Frank B. Hu, M.D., Ph.D. from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts.

The researchers, including lead author Yao He, M.D., Ph.D. from Harvard and also the Chinese PLA General Hospital in Beijing, China, interviewed and examined 2,334 people age 60 years or older who lived in the Beijing metropolitan area. Almost a third to almost half of the participants had metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of five risk factors: central obesity defined by waist circumference, high blood pressure, low HDL ("good" cholesterol), high triglycerides, and high blood sugar.

"There have been some reports from developing countries, including China, on the prevalence of metabolic syndrome, but this is actually the first study to look at the urban elderly population in a systematic way and to document not only the prevalence of metabolic syndrome, but also its relationship with cardiovascular disease," Dr. Hu said.

According to the definition of metabolic disease from the U.S. National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP), just over 30 percent of the participants had metabolic syndrome. However, 46 percent of the people in this study met the criteria for metabolic syndrome used by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). The presence of metabolic syndrome was also associated with higher prevalence of cardiovascular disease.

"Using the IDF definition, the prevalence of metabolic syndrome increased substantially, because a lower cut-off point f

Contact: Amy Murphy
American College of Cardiology

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