Over the past decades, the morbidity and mortality patterns have changed rapidly in Vietnam, with a reduction in infectious diseases in parallel with a rapid increase in chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and hypertension, leading to the so-called double burden.
Data of 18,000 adults from the nationally representative 2005 Survey were used to study the prevalence of hypertension and prehypertension, and their determinants. The overall prevalence of hypertension was 21% and only 37% had normal blood pressure. A survey on sodium intake among a rural community near Hanoi showed that salt intake was on average 11 g/day, much higher than the WHO guideline that states a maximum intake of 5 g/day. The high salt intake may contribute to the high prevalence of hypertension in Vietnam. In a randomized controlled trial, the intake of sodium was reduced by replacing regular salt and ‘bot canh’ (the traditional seasoning) by a potasssium-containing salt and low-sodium products. This intervention had a beneficial effect on blood pressure of Vietnamese adults. The present project showed that hypertension is an important public health problem in Vietnam, and that treatment and prevention by for example reducing sodium intake is a useful approach.