Daniel José Piñeiro
President, World Heart Federation
and Professor of Medicine, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina
The global death toll of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in 2021 exceeded 20 million, nearly doubling in 30 years. Often premature and preventable, awareness and access to care involves us all.
On World Heart Day, 29 September, we urge everyone to join the movement to make access to cardiovascular care everyone’s right. It must be a priority in policy and investment. When we know more about our hearts, we can make careful choices.
Prevalence of cardiovascular conditions
Four in five CVD deaths occur in low and middle-income countries (LMICs).Learning about our cardiovascular health for ourselves and those around us — and encouraging others to do the same — will increase awareness and promote the human connection that contributes to heart health.
Cardiovascular conditions can be caused by lifestyle or a genetic predisposition. In addition, neglected CVDs such as rheumatic heart disease and Chagas disease occur in some of the most vulnerable communities, affecting nearly 50 million people combined.
Four in five CVD deaths occur in low and middle-income countries (LMICs).
Improving knowledge, investment, equity
With in-depth analysis of CVD risk and mortality data worldwide and trends across gender and regions, the World Heart Report offers insight into approaches and policies to reverse the trend. One priority is Universal Health Coverage for interventions to prevent, manage and treat cardiovascular conditions and reduce the suffering they cause.
Healthcare investment as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) and lower death rates are correlated. CVD death rates are higher in countries where people pay more out-of-pocket for healthcare. Countries must invest at least 5% of GDP in cardiovascular health — a practice currently seen in 97% of high-income countries.
Building on breakthroughs
The signs are encouraging. Today, 91% of countries have policies or programmes targeting tobacco’s harmful impacts while 86% have established guidelines for managing CVD. The digital health landscape is another potential gateway to access by all.
The WHO Essential Medicines List now includes polypills that combine medicinal agents. Polypills offer hope for strengthening access and affordability of care and enhancing patients’ adherence to taking their medication. Breakthroughs and positive developments often result from pooling resources and committing to change. Together, we can confront cardiovascular disease and give every person and all societies the best chance to flourish.