President, World Heart Federation
This World Heart Day is unlike any other that has come before. Public health is front and centre as societies face the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the physical, emotional and economic toll it has taken.
Almost a million lives have been lost to COVID-19 this year. As a comparison, an estimated 17.8 million people died from cardiovascular disease in 2017. While patients steer clear of hospitals out of fear of catching the virus, their health is compromised even further.
So, this year on World Heart Day, we are asking individuals, communities and governments to ‘Use Heart’ to make better choices for society, our loved ones and ourselves. The ‘Use Heart’ call to action is about using our head, influence and compassion to beat cardiovascular disease, the world’s number one killer. Given the current situation, WHF is also calling for recognition and urgent protection of frontline healthcare providers.
Heart health and COVID-19
In these trying times, it is paramount that we pay special attention to those who are at greater risk of complications from COVID-19, as well as better understanding how the virus is affecting the hearts of otherwise healthy people. COVID-19 has created a perfect storm, in which those people with cardiovascular disease fare poorly, and those at risk don’t seek the treatment that they need to keep their hearts healthy. The heart and the entire vascular system are in danger and we need to act now. The world has not experienced a global event on this scale in decades – today we have a unique opportunity to unite, to mobilise our skills and to use our heart to act.
COVID-19 has created a perfect storm, in which those people with cardiovascular disease fare poorly, and those at risk don’t seek the treatment that they need to keep their hearts healthy.
What we can do to combat the causes of CVD
Cardiovascular disease has many causes: from smoking to diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and air pollution. To combat these, WHF is calling not only for individual behaviour change but for a societal one. With equity at the centre of WHF’s work, it is vital to make access to healthcare, healthy foods and a healthy way of life accessible and affordable to all people. Regulating unhealthy products, while creating healthy environments are examples of such solutions for governments and communities.
In light of restrictions on social gatherings due to COVID-19, this year the WHF will be moving most of its activities for World Heart Day online. To learn more and get involved, please visit worldheartday.org