The national hypertension prevention and control programme is being extended this year to all 63 cities and provinces to educate the public that the condition could cause cardiovascular diseases, health officials said.

The 32-billion-VND (1.53 million USD) programme seeks to screen 70 percent of people aged 25 and above for high blood pressure (BP), Nguyen Lan Viet, Head of the Vietnam Heart Institute, said.

At least 50 percent of hypertension patients will be given proper treatment, Viet, who is also head of the programme steering committee, told a meeting held on March 29 to discuss implementation of the programme in the south.

It will also provide training to 10,000 health workers, he added.

Last year the programme screened nearly one million people in 16 cities and provinces.

Nearly 72,000 people were found to have high BP, half of them newly diagnosed.

Nearly 80 percent of them have been treated, with 19 percent managing to bring down their BP to normal levels.

A 2008 survey by the Vietnam Heart Institute in eight provinces and cities found the prevalence rate among people aged 25 and above to be 25.1 percent. /.