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 42% of the people had prehypertension, so 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 of 6 g/day, and a likely cause of the high blood pressure values. When sodium intake was reduced by replacing salt and ‘bot canh’ (the traditional seasoning) by products with reduced sodium and higher potassium salts, blood pressure went down in a 8 weeks intervention study. This study shows 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.