Stroke still China’s top killer, despite progress combating the disease

Stroke remains the leading cause of death in China, killing more than 2 million people each year, despite a decade of advances by the world’s most populous country in combating the disease.

China made significant strides decreasing mortality rates from strokes a decade ago, when it launched a national registry of stroke patients, according to a report published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke. Since 2014, a telemedicine program has improved care of stroke patients at more than 300 hospitals in rural areas. And Chinese physicians are increasingly following the lead of Western doctors in administering thrombolytic medications, often referred to as “clot busters,” which are the gold standard for treating ischemic stroke.

But further stroke prevention efforts in China are needed to make real progress against the disease, the report found. Hospitals need more staff, better equipment and improved rehabilitation services. Treatment and control of high blood pressure and high cholesterol is stymied because of limited access to primary care. As the nation’s population ages, the needs only become more acute, the study found.