International Diabetes Federation, International Society of Nephrology, World Heart Federation and World Stroke Organisation, on behalf of the Global Coalition for Circulatory Health.
Circulatory diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease and stroke, are the leading cause of death worldwide.
Circulatory diseases are the world’s main cause of disability and death. Together, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease and stroke lead to more than 20 million deaths yearly and to more than 374 million years of life lost.
Adults with diabetes have a two-to-four-fold increased risk of death from a cardiovascular disease (CVD) and CVDs are the leading cause of death for people with kidney disease. In turn, diabetes and kidney disease are major risk factors for CVDs. Circulatory diseases strongly affect quality of life and place a heavy financial burden on individuals and health systems.
Several factors are known to increase the chances of developing circulatory diseases. Many, including smoking, physical inactivity, unhealthy eating habits and excessive alcohol consumption, can be minimised through lifestyle changes. Coordinated action to reduce risk factors can result in major gains in quality of life for individuals and cost savings for society.
A global health emergency
The urgency to address circulatory diseases has become increasingly pressing in the last 12 months. COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on people living with circulatory diseases, placing them at even higher risk of poor health outcomes than before the pandemic.
Coordinated action to reduce risk factors can result in major gains in quality of life for individuals and cost savings for society.
In the face of such a health emergency, a strategic global response is essential to provide people living with circulatory diseases with the necessary support to access and receive treatment.
The Global Coalition for Circulatory Health has recently called upon the World Health Organization and United Nations Member States to recognise circulatory diseases as a growing public health concern. They asked to prioritise their inclusion in the design and implementation of national policies and maximise common efforts to create health systems that leave no disease behind, during and beyond COVID-19.
A problem that affects us all
Circulatory diseases are one of the biggest public health concerns of our times. Global trends in ageing will further increase the problem, as the risk of circulatory diseases increases as people get older.
It is understandable during a pandemic that people may be more scared than ever to visit health services. However, we urge anyone exhibiting any of the classic symptoms of heart disease (such as chest pain, breathing difficulties, or a fast or irregular heartbeat), diabetes (increased thirst, frequent urination or impaired vision), kidney disease (lack of energy, dry/itchy skin, frequent urination, foamy/bloody urine) or stroke (acute weakness in arm, leg or face, speech difficulties or face drooping), to seek medical advice without delay.