World Heart Day, set up by the WHF to combat CVD, has been instrumental in advocacy and in implementation of preventive measures for CVD on a global scale.
A need for a heart disease and stroke awareness day
World Heart Day was set up while Antoni Bayés de Luna was president of the WHF from 1997 to 1999. The need to designate a special day for activities to prevent heart disease and stroke grew from the challenge posed by the escalating burden of CVD and its implications, particularly in the setting of developing countries.
World Heart Day is an ideal opportunity to scale up efforts at the country level within a globally led initiative. A whole day dedicated to CVD prevention is an effective way of engaging the media, the public, policy-makers, and health professionals in information dissemination, awareness creation, and advocacy, and enables decision-making bodies to track positive progress.
Cardiovascular disease kills 17.3mil people per year
In 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) adopted a global target to reduce premature non-communicable disease (NCD) mortality by 25% by 2025. The World Heart Federation recognised that achieving this would require a primary focus on cardiovascular disease (CVD). So we adopted our own 25by25 goal to work towards the reduction of premature death from CVD, including heart disease and stroke.
CVD, including heart disease and stroke, is the leading causes of death and disability worldwide. It kills 17.3 million people a year, amounting to one third of all deaths globally and half of all NCD-related deaths. We should remember that 80% of these deaths are in low- and middle-income countries where human and financial resources are most limited to address them.
The magnitude of the benefits that can be achieved reaching the 25by25 target makes intervention cost-effective. Despite this, however, CVD does not feature prominently on the health agenda of most developing countries. This fact highlights the need to broaden the health focus of developing countries to incorporate the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases, primarily heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
World Heart Day plays a crucial role in offering the CVD community a platform to raise awareness and encourage individuals, communities and governments to take action to reduce the burden of CVD and reduce premature CVD deaths by 25% by 2025.
Uniting efforts to prevent unnecessary deaths
CVD can affect people of all ages and population groups. Efforts to prevent heart disease and stroke, and protect people from the risk factors that cause them, are required throughout people’s lives, from conception through to the end of life. The good news is that World Heart Day, on 29 September every year, provides us with the opportunity to encourage individual and their families, wherever they are in the world, to make healthy heart choices, such as eating healthily, stopping smoking, getting more exercise and cutting down on salt, that will reduce their risk of CVD.
By working together, we can unite our efforts to prevent the 17.3 million deaths that occur each year.