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A nationwide project involving nearly 100 hospitals was launched on Saturday, aiming to standardize medical treatment for heart attacks and provide more uniformity between various doctors, as well as better long-term management of patients.
The project is the latest effort by the China Cardiovascular Association to reduce the rate of rehospitalization and death among heart attack patients - whose five-year survival rate is worse than cancer, experts say - and promote better diagnoses and treatment of heart disease.
Heart failure is the serious, often late-stage, manifestation of cardiovascular disease, China"s No 1 killer. Its incidence has risen year-on-year.
Nearly 1 percent of Chinese adults have had heart attacks, said Zhou Jingmin, a professor at Zhongshan Hospital affiliated with Fudan University in Shanghai and one of the leading experts at the China Heart Failure Center.
The project was launched in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, on the third anniversary of the association, of which the center is a part.
Two main challenges in the clinical treatment of the disease lie in patients" low compliance with doctors" orders after discharge from the hospital, which results in a rehospitalization rate within three months of nearly 25 percent, and doctors giving treatment plans based on their own experience rather than a uniform procedure, Zhou said.
"As the average age of China"s population continues to rise, the incidence of chronic diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes and obesity, are also the rise, and the prevalence of heart failure will increase accordingly," said Huo Yong, vice-president of the alliance and chief physician in the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at Peking University First Hospital. He added that the association will carry out campaigns, including initiatives to raise public awareness.
Zhou said the yearlong project, sponsored by Servier, a French pharmaceutical company, will collect data on 1,200 patients and their corresponding treatment plans from doctors nationwide. Top experts in the field will review them, and the doctors responsible for the good outcomes will tour the country to give speeches about their cases, which will finally be collected as a book to be distributed to doctors.
"Training from top experts and case studies will also be included in the project to better standardize the treatment plans of doctors, especially the young ones," Zhou said.
Also, at least 8,000 patients will be recruited to report their heart rates and medication on a daily basis to the doctor in charge through a smartphone application, so that their health conditions can be continuously updated and seen by the doctors.
"It may make a difference in patient management," Zhou said. "A patient undergoes a vulnerable period of three months after being discharged. Such tracking and interaction - rather than losing contact between doctor and patient, as happens typically now - will help the patient keep his or her heart rate at a desirable level."