Cardiovascular disease, or CVD, is the number one cause of death globally, taking 17.7 million lives every year, which is 31 percent of all deaths worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

In China, the prevalence and mortality rates of CVD are still on the rise, with about 290 million Chinese suffering from heart diseases, said the Cardiovascular Diseases in China 2017.

Every September 29 marks World Heart Day, so this year, let's learn about heart protection.

Dos and don'ts of heart protection

"For those who suffer from heart diseases, a major provocation could cause heart attack and lead to sudden death," said Wu Yongbo, associate chief physician at Beijing's Fuwai Hospital, one of the top cardiovascular hospitals in China.

The doctor of cardiac surgery told CGTN that an attack of coronary heart disease could occur during heated arguments, overstrain and exhaustion.

"Sudden death has often happened to middle-aged businessmen and white-collar workers in recent years," said Wu. "They are the group of people who often work late, which is a major cause of heart diseases."

Among CVDs, coronary heart disease has the highest morbidity rate, but it could be well-controlled in the early stage.

Wu provided some suggestions for patients to control the risk factors. "The blood pressure should be maintained in the safe range, and smokers better quit smoking."

He added that patients should reduce salt intake, avoid fried foods, do more exercise, and take statins to lower blood lipids if necessary in order to protect their hearts.

Misunderstandings about heart diseases

"Having heart diseases doesn't mean the end of the world," Wu told CGTN, adding that a patient could recover if treated well. "Not to mention that heart problems are preventable and controllable."

Another common misconception is "no symptom means healthy."

"High blood pressure could lead to heart diseases, but the awareness rate is very low in China," Wu said.

Wu mentioned that some patients are afraid of major surgery such as heart stent surgery and coronary bypass operation.

"For severe heart diseases, these major surgeries are life-saving."

'Medical development is unbalanced in China'

China has been putting great efforts in research and development of CVDs, certain new medical materials have reached high standards.

Earlier this month, British medical journal The Lancet, has, for the first time, published a study showing a Chinese-made stent rivaling the performance of existing stents on the market. The device has been approved in nearly 40 countries and territories globally.

However, medical development is unbalanced in China. With the best hospitals and doctors flocking to big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, the development of cardiology in second and third-tier cities is fairly slow.

The facilities and equipment of municipal and county hospitals are as advanced as those in the top hospitals, therefore, the most effective manner to break the unbalance is through personnel-training, leaving local patients "a medical team that doesn't leave," Wu told CGTN.

Top cardiovascular hospitals like Fuwei Hospital take a massive amount of trainee doctors annually.

Wu, who is also the president of Beijing Ivy Medical Expert League which is a non-governmental organization consisting of top doctors, told CGTN that one of the main missions of the league is to help local hospitals improve.

During the past years, the league helped build five heart centers in local hospitals to improve their heart treatment techniques.

"Setting clinical pathway for municipal and county hospitals is also important," said Wu. "If local hospitals can follow the standard clinical pathway, they can treat common heart diseases as well as top hospitals of China."

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