World Heart Federation
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This year’s World Heart Day will build on the success of 2012, where 977 activities in 118 countries were organized - the highest number ever reported in the history of this campaign. The 2013 World Heart Day will highlight a life-course approach to the prevention and control of CVD with a focus on women and children and show what actions can be taken through a person’s life to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD): “Today we have an opportunity to prevent the future impact of heart disease and stroke by enabling heart-healthy living from childhood throughout adulthood.”

Speaking to a targeted audience 
The toolkit will be built such that it will have targeted messaging for specific age groups including: children and adolescents, adults and seniors. This is especially significant since at the World Health Assembly (WHA) May 2012, governments from 194 countries agreed the first global mortality target on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – including CVD – and made a commitment to reduce premature mortality by 25 per cent by 2025. Given that CVD accounts for nearly half of the 36 million NCD deaths annually we have a major role to play in achieving this target.

As a result of this commitment  the World Health Organization (WHO) has drafted a Global Action Plan (GAP) on the Prevention and Control of NCDs 2013-2025, which includes 25 indicators and  a set of 9 voluntary targets to be officially approved at the WHA in May 2013. The NCD targets are essentially CVD targets and the GAP highlights the importance of a life-course approach to CVD and includes indicators targeted at specific age groups. This is where World Heart Day plays a significant role as it will help to deliver the message to mass audiences in a targeted way and will help sensitize people to the fact that governments alone cannot reach these targets and individuals must also take responsibility for their own and their family’s health. 

Survey highlights ignorance on perception of risk
On the occasion of World Heart Day 2012, the World Heart Federation commissioned a multi-national survey to assess perceptions of the general public about the age they believed people should start to take action about their heart health to prevent conditions such as heart disease and stroke.  The survey findings revealed through a global press release that half of people believe they should wait until age 30 or older before taking action to protect their heart, when in fact CVD can affect people of all ages and populations groups, and the risk can begin early in life with exposure to CVD risk factors. It is a myth that heart disease and stroke are lifestyle diseases that primarily affect older, affluent, male populations. Women are at equal risk to men, and children are vulnerable, too.

World Heart Day: 29 September 2013
In light of these results and in continuation of the 2012 theme, the focus on CVD prevention among women and children will be reinforced in 2013, emphasizing the fact that from childhood through adulthood we have the opportunity to prevent the burden of heart disease and stroke and reach the target of a 25 per cent reduction in CVD deaths by 2025.This campaign will highlight what actions can be taken through a person’s life to reduce their risk of CVD, from conception through to life end as we know that a life-course approach is key to the prevention and control of CVD.

We need to protect the future generation against heart disease and stroke, by encouraging and enabling heart-healthy living from early life as the behaviour of today’s children will affect the future burden of heart disease and stroke. The risk of dying or becoming seriously unwell due to heart disease and stroke is also largely underestimated in women. Heart disease is the number one killer of women, causing one in three deaths.

Taking action to prevent exposure to risk factors such as lack of physical activity, an unhealthy diet and tobacco smoke among women will not only have a positive impact on their own but also on their children’s health, as they learn by example and will be encouraged to adopt heart-healthy behaviours from a young age.

Further information
•    Discover what activities were organized around the globe in 2012
•    Read the WHO Global Action Plan on the Prevention and Control of NCDs

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