The cost of inaction: Secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease in Asia-Pacific

June 23, 2020



June 23, 2020

Jesse Quigley Jones

Managing editor

Jesse is a managing editor for Economist Impact based in Asia, with a focus on healthcare.

Based in Hong Kong, Jesse has been working in Asia for over 10 years. Prior to the Economist Impact, he held roles in medical education, scientific publications and medical communications, working in multinational biopharmaceutical companies with a focus in vaccines and biologic medicines. Jesse has extensive experience researching and collating medical information and working with healthcare professionals and patient organisations to develop insight-driven communications programmes.

Jesse holds a BSc in Anatomy and Physiology from the University of Leeds. His editorial interests include the policy response to emerging public health issues and patient advocacy in infectious diseases.


The burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD) across Asia-Pacific varies by country, but is nonetheless substantial. Collectively CVD is the leading or second-leading cause of death across the region and the prevalence continues to rise. Further, shifting demographics in the region—with both an increase in younger people experiencing CVD and ageing populations with multiple comorbidities—are putting health systems under increasing pressure.

Progress in tackling the problems associated with CVD has focussed in the primary prevention space, and age-standardised incidence of CVDs are beginning to fall. However, undermining this progress, there is still an unacceptably high recurrence rate of heart attack and stroke with associated economic and human cost. As more patients now survive an initial heart attack or stroke, the secondary event burden is likely to increase. This demands urgent attention but also represents an eminently realisable opportunity to improve care and outcomes in this group.

This analysis by the Economist Intelligence Unit explores the policy response to managing secondary cardiovascular events in eight Asia-Pacific economies: Australia, mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.

Key findings of the research include:

  • While CVD policies do exist, some are more comprehensive than others.
  • The success of translating policy on modifiable risk factors into legislation and action, along with measuring impact, is yet to be defined.
  • Government audits are lacking.
  • Primary care systems, a key component for integrated care, are evolving.
  • Rehabilitation services exist but coverage is limited, and they struggle to recruit and retain patients.
  • Integrated, coordinated patient-centred care is a necessary goal.
  • Patient empowerment is essential for success.
  • Maximising data and measuring progress.


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