Today marks the eleventh anniversary of World Heart Day, created to educate people around the globe about the dangers of cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) causes 29 percent of all deaths globally each year, making it the world's number one killer. CVD is also the deadliest of the major non-communicable diseases, or NCDs, a disease group that was one of the major themes of this year's UN General Assembly high-level meeting.
High-impact, affordable interventions such as tobacco control, salt reduction, improved diets and physical activity, and treatment of people at high risk of CVD, will help tens of millions of people avoid dying prematurely from CVD, namely from heart attack and stroke. With this in mind, the United States is engaged in the prevention and control of CVD domestically and internationally.
On September 13, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the Million Hearts campaign, an ambitious private-public sector initiative to limit the number of avoidable CVD deaths through public education, improved healthcare, and other methods. The campaign is co-led by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and includes participation by several other U.S. government agencies.
"Heart disease and stroke are on the rise but can be controlled," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, CDC director. "With the launch of the Million Hearts campaign, we are working to save a million lives in five years by encouraging aspirin use to protect hearts, better blood pressure control, declines in cholesterol levels, and tobacco cessation."
Up-to-date research and skilled healthcare workers are two other components necessary to combat premature deaths from CVD. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), in partnership with United Healthcare Group, has established 11 NHLBI Centers of Excellence in ten low- and middle-income countries to increase research and training capacities to prevent and control CVD. This five-year initiative is expected to produce country level and regional data as well as more trained personnel in those countries.
CDC's Million Hearts campaign and NHLBI's Centers of Excellence are just two examples of how the United States is committed to the fight against cardiovascular disease. By empowering healthcare workers, researchers, and individuals around the world, the global community will be better positioned to address this growing disease burden.