W e told my dad for years that he should stop smoking. First it was a pack a day, and then as he got older and the stresses of raising a family got to him, it was two packs and sometimes more.
By age 66, he was having trouble breathing and had to be rushed to the hospital, where he was told he had congestive heart failure and would have to undergo a quadruple bypass operation. He made it through the operation, but never made it out of the hospital. He was gone; another victim of heart disease.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 17 million people died from cardiovascular diseases in 2008, representing 30 percent of all deaths worldwide. Of these deaths, an estimated 7.3 million were due to coronary artery disease and 6.2 million were due to stroke. More than 80 percent of these deaths take place in low and middle-income countries. The WHO believes the number of cardiovascular disease deaths, mainly from heart disease and stroke, will increase to more than 23 million by the year 2030. The numbers are truly staggering.Cardiovascular disease accounts for 30% of all deaths worldwide Click To Tweet
The world has decided something needs to be done. The World Heart Federation, set up in 1970, and composed of heart foundations around the world, with the purpose of supporting international research, professional and public education, as well as community programs, is sponsoring World Heart Day on Sept. 29 as a way to alert the world about this growing health concern.
For the first time, the WHF has joined forces with the United Nations to try and reduce the number of deaths caused by cardiovascular disease. Dr. William Zoghbi, a cardiologist with the Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center and a WHF Board Member, says for the first time in its history, the United Nations has taken an active role by putting non-communicable disease like cardiovascular disease on its agenda. He believes this will go a long way toward getting countries involved to do something about the world’s number one killer.
“The goal is to reduce this number by one-third by 2030 through prevention and treatment,” said Zoghbi, who currently chairs the WHF Global Task Force for cardiovascular disease. “We want to ensure that every country’s health plan includes an essential package for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease.”
Zoghbi suggests countries must work on agriculture, transport, environmental and fiscal policies as well as international trade agreements that will have a strong impact on a person’s diet, physical inactivity and tobacco use.
“We need to help impress upon people lifestyle changes that will help reduce risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking” Zoghbi said. “More importantly, we need to hammer home the importance of screening for heart disease. Many people go to the doctor when it’s too late. Our goal is to make sure people have the tools to prevent heart disease and I believe we can make that happen.”