TAKE YOUR HEART FOR A WALK
WORLD HEART DAY 24 SEPTEMBER 2000
Cardiovascular diseases still
kill more people in Europe and North America than any other disease. The grim statistics
from developing countries paint a similar bleak picture. Last year, cardiovascular
diseases contributed to a third of all global deaths. By 2010, heart disease is expected
to be the number one cause of death in developing countries. It should not be so. For the
most part, it is preventable and controllable.
"More and more people now realize that
they can take responsibility for their health", says Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, WHO
Director-General "Regular physical activity over the years, be it mountain hiking or
cross-country skiing these are very close to my heart or walking, swimming
or cycling, helps to keep one's heart in good condition. Walking is the easiest and
most convenient form of exercise for most people."
On Sunday, 24 September 2000, the global
community will be observing the first ever World Heart Day organized by the World Heart
Federation and co-sponsored by the World Health Organization and UNESCO.
"There is hardly a shortage of World
Days, but this one is long overdue", comments Dr Porfirio Nordet, a WHO
cardiovascular specialist. "We are sending a simple message to people in both
developed and developing countries alike, 'Have a heart, look after your heart' ".
Fittingly, the curtain-raiser event to the
World Heart Day was held today at the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia featuring Her
Majesty Queen Sophia of Spain and Juan Antonio Samaranch, President of the International
Olympic Committee. In his message, Sir William Deane, Governor-General of Australia,
pointed out that "while it is true that among Australians as a whole, the mortality
figures from cardiovascular disease have been declining, it still remains our biggest
killer accounting for 40% of all Australian deaths. It is also true that there is
still much room for improvement among particular groups in our community, especially the
socioeconomically disadvantaged, those people living in rural and remote areas, and in
At WHO headquarters in Geneva, a World
Health Run was organized bringing 150 participants from WHO and other Geneva-based UN
organizations. The event included a five kilometre run and a three kilometre walk.
World Heart Day is a global event. At least
92 countries around the world will be observing World Heart Day on 24 September.
About 8 000 people, including disabled and
transplant patients will participate in an eight kilometre walk in the centre of Buenos
Aires in Argentina. A massive four-hour aerobics marathon under the guidance of
instructors from all fitness gyms will be held in Barbados. "Paths of Health"
will be set up in the woods and fields for people of all ages to walk, jog and cycle under
supervision of health professionals in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In Brazil, the President of
the Republic will address the nation on 24 September on the topic of the world's
first World Heart Day. Walks and other health-related activities will be organized in all
major cities in the country.
In Indonesia, a three-month campaign will
culminate in a "Big Walk" involving 25 000 people. These walks will be conducted
simultaneously in several large cities. In Malaysia, Jump Rope for Health training
workshops as well as "Take Your Heart for a Walk" events will be staged in 14
states. The Sri Lanka Heart Association will have its first academic session on 24
September. A walk and a screening camp for cardiovascular disease will be organized with
participation of voluntary organizations.
The Swiss Heart Foundation will focus on
walking. Together with "Allez hop", a daughter organization of the Swiss Olympic
Society, the Foundation will organize hourly walks from seven different locations in
Switzerland. Local events involving hospitals and clinics are scheduled in Basel, Bern,
Geneva and Zurich.
Cardiovascular diseases include
hypertension (high blood pressure), coronary heart disease (heart attack), cerebrovascular
disease (stroke), and heart failure, among others.
Major preventive, risk-reducing factors
include all forms of physical exercise, healthy diet, not smoking tobacco products,
maintaining a reasonable body weight, avoiding stress and following treatment for high
blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.
For further information, please contact Mr Valery
Abramov, Office of the Spokesperson, WHO, Geneva. Telephone (+41 22) 791 25 43.
Fax (+41 22) 791 4858. Email : email@example.com.
All WHO Press Releases, Fact Sheets and Features
can be obtained on Internet on the WHO home page http://www.who.int