Young woman's death sparks online debate

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A young bride-to-be died in her sleep after a long day of work on her online shop, triggering a heated public discussion on death caused by overwork.

The 24-year-old woman, from Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, had run a shop that sold female clothing and shoes online since 2010, and had done well, with more than 200 orders filled in a recent month.

The 24-year-old woman, from Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, died in her sleep after a long day of work on her online shop.

The 24-year-old woman, from Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, died in her sleep after a long day of work on her online shop.

Neither her family nor the hospital would reveal her name because of privacy concerns.

In recent weeks the woman had been busy with the online shop, taking pictures of new arrivals, receiving orders and sending packages, and asking her friends late at night for advice on how to improve the business, according to her micro blog records.

The woman, who was supposed to get married in October, died suddenly early on Tuesday.

Li Hailin, a doctor from Tongde Hospital of Zhejiang province who had treated the woman, told China Daily on Friday that based on her family's description and her symptoms, the woman probably died of sudden cardiac failure, with overwork and an unhealthy lifestyle being important contributors.

The woman's death triggered an intense discussion online. By 4:30 pm on Friday, there were 377,865 posts related to the death on Sina Weibo, a major Chinese micro-blogging platform. Most of the netizens expressed their sorrow over the woman's death and reflected on their own lifestyles.

"I heard of her death, and was frightened because I have a lifestyle similar to hers," said Li Haimin, 23, who is also an online-shop owner. "Managing such a shop is exhausting and time-consuming."

Li said in recent weeks she has been making a big effort to promote her goods through various ways to lure customers.

"After spending more than 12 hours a day in front of the computer these days, I am extremely tired, but I cannot give up my shop. It's an important way to make money," she said.

The death of the 24-year-old woman is not the only case of sudden death among young people, and experts said such death is closely related to overwork or intense pressure.

About 2,181 cases of sudden death happened in 2011 before the victims managed to arrive at the hospital, while the figure in 1998 was just 767. Among them, people under 50 accounted for about 13 percent, with an increase of 1.7 percentage points from 1998, according to the Beijing Emergency Medical Center.

Zhang Lei, a doctor who has been working with the medical center for 15 years, said most sudden-death victims are males who are 45 to 55 years old.

"Most of them are under great pressure from work, for they have to work hard to get a promotion and support their families," Zhang said. "Pressure from work, especially for people who are working in foreign companies in China, may disrupt circadian rhythms. Alcohol abuse is also an important cause of sudden death."

Zhang Yanchen, 25, an employee of a telecommunication company in Hebei province, agreed with the doctor. He said he and his colleagues work overtime at least twice a week. "But I never thought of quitting, because I know nobody has an easy life in this fast-tempo society."

More than 540,000 sudden cardiac deaths like the young online-shop owner happened in China every year, said Zhang Haicheng, a cardiologist at Peking University People's Hospital, citing research figures.

"About 88 percent of these patients have much more rapid heartbeats, and may die in an hour. But most of the deaths occurred to old people who have myocardial infarction and cerebral hemorrhage. Victims in their 20s are relatively rare," he said, adding that in some cases, a sudden noise at night may scare them and lead to death.

Liu Zhaoping, a cardiologist from Peking University First Hospital, said regular physical examinations can help young people find possible risks related to the heart, and timely treatment after feeling uncomfortable can also reduce the risk of sudden death.

"There's no need to be panic over sudden death," he said. "But young people need to pay attention to their lifestyles, as an unhealthy lifestyle may bring them diseases when they become older."

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