Cardiovascular disease

Strategic priorities

The WHO Programme on Cardiovascular Diseases works on prevention, management and monitoring of cardiovascular disease (CVD) globally. It aims to develop global strategies to reduce the incidence, morbidity and mortality of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) by:

  • effectively reducing CVD risk factors and their determinants;
  • developing cost effective and equitable health care innovations for management of CVD;
  • monitoring trends of CVD and their risk factors.

CVD in developing countries

Economic transition urbanisation, industrialisation and globalisation bring about lifestyle changes that promote heart disease. These risk factors include tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet. Life expectancy in developing countries is rising sharply and people are exposed to these risk factors for longer periods. Newly merging CVD risk factors like low birth weight, folate deficiency and infections are also more frequent among the poorest in low- and middle-income countries.

Social and economic consequences

Clinical care of CVD is costly and prolonged. These direct costs divert the scarce family and societal resources to medical care. CVD affects individuals in their peak mid life years disrupting the future of the families dependant on them and undermining the development of nations by depriving valuable human resources in their most productive years. In developed countries lower socioeconomic groups have greater prevalence of risk factors, higher incidence of disease and higher mortality. In developing countries as the CVD epidemic matures the burden will shift to the lower socioeconomic groups.

Key areas of work

Our goal is to effectively control CVD risk factors and to reduce the burden of the fast growing cardiovascular disease epidemic, particularly in developing countries. Our key areas of work include:

  • Reduce major CVD risk factors and their social and economic determinants through community based programmes for integrated prevention of NCDs.
  • Development of standards of care and cost-effective case management for CVD.
  • Global action to enhance the capacity of countries to meet the health care needs of CVD.
  • Developing feasible surveillance methods to assess the pattern and trends of major CVDs and risk factors and to monitor prevention and control initiatives.
  • Developing effective inter-country, interregional and global networks and partnerships for concerted global action.

More information on CVD