September 29 is World Heart Day!Posted on by
In honor of World Heart Day, the CDC Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention was asked to write commentary on the work the CDC is doing worldwide in reducing the morbidity and mortality due to cardiovascular diseases.
The theme of this year’s World Heart Day is one that touches everyone—the cardiovascular health of women and children. Though many women do not perceive cardiovascular disease (CVD) as the greatest threat to their health1, roughly 8.6 million women across the world die each year from CVD2. This is more than all cancers, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria combined. Women are not the only ones vulnerable to CVD. Risk among children is growing, due to increasing trends of unhealthy diet and physical inactivity.
CVD is the leading cause of death worldwide.
Yet there is good news: CVD can be prevented. Everyday heart-healthy behaviors, such as eating a diet low in salt, being physically active, not smoking and promoting a smoke-free home environment, as well as avoiding the harmful use of alcohol can improve the lives of all people, no matter their age or gender.
CDC has been working closely with partners around the world to control hypertension and reduce sodium intake—both major risk factors for CVD. Our global work includes expanding global and regional work by providing training and technical assistance to funded programs, and promoting evidence-based research and best practices on sodium reduction and hypertension control. These collaborations provide the unique opportunity to share CDC’s expertise and experience to enhance the heart health of our global neighbors, and also learn about other successful approaches that can then be applied in the US to improve the heart health of Americans.
CDC is working with health officials in China to reduce deaths due to CVD. In 2008 an estimated 3.5 million deaths in China were attributed to CVD. Like the US, sodium intake and hypertension are the major contributors to this burden. CDC’s work in China is helping us better understand the impact of reduced sodium intake in populations and approaches to increase hypertension control in resource-limited countries and communities.
On a recent trip to Beijing, my CDC colleagues and I were able to see first-hand how these efforts are having an impact.
We visited local schools where procurement to ensure purchase of healthier food options for school lunches and a low sodium menu have been implemented. A second stop on our trip was to a local community health center treating patients with hypertension and offering health information on hypertension/healthy diets, including those from CDC. The last stop of our visit was a women’s center, where we had the opportunity to learn more about the way CDC expertise is incorporated into managing chronic disease and programs focused on providing women the tools and skills they need to reduce the amount of salt and oil they use in cooking.
CDC and global partners are developing a standardized approach to hypertension medical treatment that aims to improve hypertension control rates.
This includes identifying specific medications that can be used to treat the majority of adults with hypertension, while also working to make them broadly available and effectively provided to patients. We are already seeing examples of this type of strategy working with our partners in Brazil. Hypertension medications are being provided at reduced costs by the Ministry of Health. Brazil’s work provides an example of how improving clinical care and access to medications enhances both prevention and blood pressure control. CDC is excited to assist in the evaluation of these programs.
CDC is committed to a heart healthy and stroke free world. On this World Heart Day, we recognize the progress being made to address CVD, and know there remains great opportunity to achieve more across the globe.
- Million Hearts
- CDC’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention
- CDC Sodium Reduction Toolkit
- CDC Global Health – Noncommunicable Diseases
- Institute of Medicine Report: Promoting Cardiovascular Health in the Developing World
- WHO Atlas of Heart Disease and Stroke
1. Mosca L, Mochari-Greenberger H, Dolor RJ, Newby LK, Robb KJ. Twelve-year follow-up of American women’s awareness of cardiovascular disease risk and barriers to heart health. Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality Outcomes. 2010;3:120-7.
2. World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs317/en/index.html. 2010