Unmasking China’s secret killer

In China, cardiovascular disease is a secret killer. It is the most common cause of death for women, but the majority of women are unaware of its causes, symptoms and effective prevention methods. Most people still believe breast cancer is the biggest threat to women.

This lack of understanding has become a major obstacle for health specialists dealing with cardiovascular disease in China.

Dr Chen (far right) and Dr Liu (second from right) with American colleagues in Boston. Dr Chen (far right) and Dr Liu (second from right) with American colleagues in Boston.As part of a women’s heart health focus at The George Institute, China, two leading Chinese cardiologists recently visited major research centres in America. Dr Meilin Liu, Deputy Director in the Department of Geriatrics at the First Hospital of Peking University, and Dr Yundai Chen, Director of the Cardiovascular Department at the PLA General Hospital, visited some of America’s leading health practitioners.

The visit was supported by Sister to Sister: The Women’s Heart Health Foundation and The George Institute, China, with funding from the American Women for International Understanding and UnitedHealth Group.

The ten-day visit was extremely beneficial, said Dr Liu. “We found there were also problems with understanding and preventing the disease in the US, but they have built up a comprehensive system to publicise, treat and prevent the disease.”

The two doctors visited the George Washington University Hospital, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Adventist Healthcare, Brigham and Women’s Hospital of Harvard University Medical School and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Dr Chen said: “The non-government organisations in America can run a campaign and use their influence to lobby the government to adjust policy. In China, we mostly rely on the government to initiate change. So our first task is to make the government realise this is an important issue,” she added.

“We are clinical cardiologists who are now becoming advocators for women’s heart health. We are trying to promote a healthier lifestyle to China’s hundreds of millions of women. After all, preventing is more important than curing,” Dr Liu and Dr Chen both commented.

The George Institute, China, is committed to raising public awareness and encouraging prevention and high-quality research to improve women’s heart health in China.