Racing to Slow Down Cardiovascular Disease

"We now have the opportunity of a lifetime to stem its rise with concerted international action that will help countries tackle the preventable causes of CVD," said Dr. Sidney C. Smith, Jr., president of the World Heart Federation.

In advance of World Heart Day (Sept. 29) comes a new paper from the Global Cardiovascular Disease Taskforce, a group of experts representing five leading heart health organizations, including the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology. They said the time is now for governments around the world to step up and reduce the premature deaths caused by heart disease and stroke.

Agreement by the end of 2012 on a set of global targets is critical to reducing deaths from cardiovascular disease, which kills around 17.3 million people annually, according to their paper.

One such goal was set earlier this year at the 65th World Health Assembly: to reduce premature deaths from non-communicable diseases by 25 percent by 2025. The paper's authors recommend additional targets developed by the World Health Organization, including increased physical activity and lower tobacco consumption, salt intake, and hypertension.

"The number of people with CVD is growing, and its impact is disproportionately felt by those in the developing world, where people die younger. We now have the opportunity of a lifetime to stem its rise with concerted international action that will help countries tackle the preventable causes of CVD," said Dr. Sidney C. Smith, Jr., president of the World Heart Federation and chair of the writing group.

"Cardiovascular disease risk can be lowered by public policies that help people to make healthier choices. This set of robust targets can focus governments' efforts on this vital task and make progress measurable," said Dr. Ralph Sacco, a past president of AHA.

The top four targets espoused by the task force are these:

  • a 10 percent relative reduction in the prevalence of insufficient physical activity by adults aged 18 and older
  • a 30 percent relative reduction in prevalence of current tobacco smoking
  • a 30 percent relative reduction in adults' intake of salt, with the aim of achieving a recommended level of less than 5 grams per day
  • a 25 percent relative reduction in prevalence of raised blood pressure

"The treatments are out there, and they are feasible and cost effective. We need to make them available and affordable around the globe for a healthier outcome," said Dr. William A. Zoghbi, president of the American College of Cardiology.

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