BEIJING -- Each year cardiovascular disease kills 13 million people in developing countries, almost triple the number who die from AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined, researchers said yesterday.
Cardiovascular disease -- including heart disease, heart failure, and stroke -- is the world's biggest killer, and it often strikes people in their prime working years of 35 to 64, specialists said at a four-day health conference.
In China, deaths from cardiovascular disease have skyrocketed alongside the country's rapid economic development, making it the number one killer -- fueled by smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity, said Dr. Runlin Gao, a cardiologist at Fu Wai Hospital.
''The total disease burden of cardiovascular disease in China is higher than in the United States and most other Western countries," he said. ''Cardiovascular disease has been the leading cause of deaths in China since the 1990s."
In many developing countries, growing prosperity has led to vast changes in diet and lifestyle.
Easy access to cheap, fatty foods, along with migration from rural farming areas into cities, has altered the way many people live.
The conference launched the Disease Control Priorities Project, which includes three books compiled by nearly 500 international specialists focusing on cost- effective strategies for improving global health.
Using drugs to lower cholesterol and high blood pressure are cost-effective ways to help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, the researchers reported.