Cardiovascular disease

On World Heart Day WHO calls for accelerated action to prevent the world’s leading global killer

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) take the lives of 17.7 million people every year, 31% of all global deaths. Triggering these diseases are tobacco smoking, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and the harmful use of alcohol. These in turn show up in people as raised blood pressure, elevated blood glucose and overweight and obesity. Through the Global Hearts Initiative, WHO is supporting governments to scale-up efforts on CVD prevention and control through three technical packages: MPOWER for tobacco control, SHAKE for salt reduction and HEARTS for strengthening CVD management in primary health care. Launched in September 2016, the initiative has been rolled out in several countries, where health workers are being trained to better deliver tested and affordable measures to protect people from CVDs and help them recover following a heart attack or stroke. A new global initiative - Resolve to Save Lives - will give renewed impetus to these efforts.

New initiative launched to tackle cardiovascular disease, the world’s number one killer

22 September, 2016: “Global Hearts”, a new initiative from the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners launched on the margins of the UN General Assembly, aims to beat back the global threat of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes - the world’s leading cause of death.

fact buffet

17.7 millionpeople die each year from CVDs, an estimated 31% of all deaths worldwide.

Fact sheet on CVDs

>75%of CVD deaths occur in low-income and middle-income countries.

Fact sheet on CVDs

80%of all CVD deaths are due to heart attacks and strokes.

10 facts on noncommunicable diseases

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are disorders of the heart and blood vessels and include coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, rheumatic heart disease and other conditions. Four out of five CVD deaths are due to heart attacks and strokes. Individuals at risk of CVD may demonstrate raised blood pressure, glucose, and lipids as well as overweight and obesity. These can all be easily measured in primary care facilities. Identifying those at highest risk of CVDs and ensuring they receive appropriate treatment can prevent premature deaths. Access to essential NCD medicines and basic health technologies in all primary health care facilities is essential to ensure that those in need receive treatment and counselling.

Key messages to protect heart health

  • Tobacco use, an unhealthy diet, and physical inactivity increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
  • Engaging in physical activity for at least 30 minutes every day of the week will help to prevent heart attacks and strokes.
  • Eating at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day, and limiting your salt intake to less than one teaspoon a day, also helps to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Cardiovascular diseases in WHO regions