By 2020, more than 80 percent of cities will have at least one center for the prevention and treatment of stroke－the biggest killer disease in China－according to a central government target.
The Cerebral Stroke Prevention and Control Committee, part of the top-level National Health and Family Planning Commission, said it will continue expanding its network as it aims to greatly reduce the problem.
Local stroke centers will allow for more effective screening, timely rescues and risk prevention, the committee said.
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted or reduced. People older than 60 are at significantly higher risk, experts say.
Strokes are responsible for more deaths in China than any other illness or medical condition, and its incidence is increasing at a rate of 9 percent annually, according to the committee.
Fifteen percent of people older than 40 are at high risk, especially smokers and those with hypertension or obesity, the committee said.
Every year more than 2 million new stroke cases are reported, with more than 1.8 million deaths, according to estimates from some experts.
Li Yongjun, director of vascular surgery at Beijing Hospital, a top facility in China, said strokes have been a major health threat in the country for many years, and their incidence has been increasing over the past few years, even among younger people.
Of more than 300 surgeries Li has done in the past year, more than 20 percent are stroke-related, he said.
In the 1990s, when Li was a surgeon at Peking Union Medical College Hospital, the vascular department had only five beds. Now the number has risen to 48 to meet increasing needs, said Li, who is also a member of the stroke committee.
Heightened risk factors include smoking, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol intake, lack of exercise and heavy work stress, he said.
Some people, such as those with narrow neck arteries, are at much higher risk, and should undergo screening, he said.
"The best way to handle the condition is prevention," Li said.
Quitting smoking and taking medication can help reduce risks for diabetics, he added.
With Chinese society in a state of rapid change, many young people face heavy pressure at work that can put them at increased risk, he said.
"It is important to establish a good lifestyle, including regular exercise and a healthy diet," Li said.