More than a third of adults in China suffer from high blood pressure, but only one in 20 are able effectively to manage their condition, according to research published Thursday.
Strokes are the leading cause of death in China, accounting for one in five deaths annually, researchers said, with uncontrolled high blood pressure a significant risk factor.
But fewer than a quarter of people with hypertension in China take medication and treatment among those who receive it was found to be ineffective or unsuitable.
The availability of medication for high blood pressure is patchy across the country and one in 12 primary health-care pharmacies do not stock any anti-hypertensive drugs at all, according to two studies published jointly in The Lancet, a leading medical journal.
In addition to problems of access, researchers noted that “despite the availability of low-cost antihypertensive medications, higher-cost medications were more often prescribed”.
Only a third of sites stocked “high-value” medication, referring to drugs that are both recommended and low-cost.
Blood pressure levels in China are increasing “likely because of an aging population, urbanization, dietary changes and obesity”, Professor Lixin Jiang, from Fuwai Hospital in Beijing, said in response to the study.