Power your life on World Health Day

By Johanna Ralston, chief executive of the World Heart Federation

In 2013, the World Health Organization adopted a global target to reduce premature non-communicable disease (NCD) mortality by 25 per cent by 2025. The World Heart Federation recognised that achieving this would require a primary focus on cardiovascular disease (CVD), which is responsible for half of all NCD deaths. So we adopted our own ‘25 by 25’ goal to work towards the reduction of premature death from CVD, including heart disease and stroke.

CVD is the leading cause of death and disability in the world, killing 17.5 million people a year. That’s a third of all deaths on the planet and around 80 per cent of these deaths are in low and middle-income countries, where human and financial resources are least able to address the CVD burden.

World Heart Day plays a crucial role in changing all this. It is a vital global platform that we, as well as our members, supporters and other civil society organisations can use to raise awareness and encourage individuals, families, communities and governments to take action now.

Just a few simple steps, such as eating more healthily, cutting down on alcohol and stopping smoking, can improve heart health and overall wellbeing

This World Heart Day, we want everyone to understand what they can do to fuel their hearts and power their lives. We’re sending out the message that your heart is at the heart of your health and it’s easy to give it the care it deserves. Just a few simple steps, such as eating more healthily, cutting down on alcohol and stopping smoking, can improve heart health and overall wellbeing.

On and around September 29, thousands of activities and events will be organised around the world to spread the word about how we can combat premature mortality caused by CVD, the world’s number-one killer. Because the fact is that 80 per cent of premature deaths from CVD could be avoided if the four main risk factors – tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol – are controlled.

From World Heart Day 2016, we are also asking governments and policy-makers across the globe to answer our call to implement reliable, simple and fit-for-purpose surveillance systems for monitoring the burden and treatment of CVD.

The need for reliable data around CVD has never been greater. CVD remains the number-one cause of global deaths and places a high economic burden on countries. By implementing the policy call and committing to reliable data collection, we have a real opportunity to provide the evidence that will lead to the formulation of accurate policy and legislation to tackle CVD.

Indeed, we feel that one of the barriers to recognition of CVD as the leading cause of death in the world, and the new scourge of low and middle-income countries, has been the lack of reliable and consistent data to demonstrate how the burden has shifted and increased.
By working together, we have the power to reduce the burden of CVD and the premature deaths it causes, helping people everywhere to live longer, better, heart-healthy lives.