World Heart Day, observed annually on September 29, is a critical reminder of the need for global attention to cardiovascular health. Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) remain the leading cause of death worldwide, claiming over 20.5 million lives each year. This article delves into the significance of World Heart Day, its history, and the urgent need for action in the fight against CVDs.
Cardiovascular diseases are a global health crisis, responsible for 32% of all global deaths, with heart attacks and strokes accounting for 85% of these fatalities. Shockingly, over three-quarters of CVD-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. Furthermore, nearly 38% of premature deaths (under the age of 70) due to noncommunicable diseases can be attributed to CVDs.
The theme for World Heart Day 2023, “Use Heart, Know Heart,” emphasizes the importance of understanding our hearts as a crucial first step towards better cardiovascular health. In today’s world, visual communication plays a pivotal role, and emojis, like the heart emoji (❤️), are a universal language that captures attention, especially among younger generations.
Four Key Areas of Action:
WHO South-East Asia Region is spearheading the fight against CVDs with a focus on four key areas:
1. Placing CVD high on national agendas with strong policy and programmatic leadership.
2. Implementing evidence-based tobacco control laws in line with WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
3. Promoting healthy diets, including salt reduction and the elimination of trans-fatty acids.
4. Scaling up programs for the detection, diagnosis, and management of hypertension and diabetes in primary healthcare.
Global Progress and Initiatives:
Several countries, including India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, are actively working to eliminate trans-fatty acids from their national food supplies, benefiting millions of people. India, in particular, is making significant strides in hypertension and diabetes management through its National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases, and Stroke (NPCDCS).
The Indian Initiative:
In India, several initiatives like NPCDCS, AMRIT outlets, Jan Aushadhi stores, and the STEMI Project are aimed at improving cardiovascular health and providing affordable healthcare options.
The Way Forward:
Preventing CVDs requires individual and collective action. Lifestyle changes, such as tobacco cessation, reducing salt intake, adopting a balanced diet, regular physical activity, and moderating alcohol consumption, can significantly reduce risk. Additionally, supportive health policies and widespread access to healthcare services are essential.
World Heart Day 2023 serves as a global call to action to address the alarming rise of cardiovascular diseases. It emphasizes the importance of knowing and caring for our hearts, not only for our well-being but also as a step towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals related to noncommunicable diseases and universal health coverage. Together, we can make a difference, reduce CVD-related deaths, and improve the overall cardiovascular health of millions worldwide. Let us use our hearts and knowledge to bring about a healthier future.