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Our History

The first non-governmental organization dedicated to CVD and still leading the way

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The roots of the World Heart Federation stretch back as far as 1944

The World Heart Federation was originally formed in 1978 by a merger of the International Society of Cardiology (ISC) and the International Cardiology Federation (ICF), under the name of the International Society and Federation of Cardiology (ISFC). In 1998 the ISFC changed its name to the World Heart Federation and since then we have grown to become a cornerstone of the cardiovascular health field, currently working with more than 200 members and partners around the world.

In 1996, an agreement between UNESCO, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Heart Federation instigated ongoing cooperation on different projects, such as the prevention of rheumatic fever and heart disease, Chagas’ disease and risk factors in school-age children in developing countries

The World Heart Federation is now recognized by the World Health Organization as its leading NGO partner in cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention and we are a close partner of the World Health Organization’s department of Noncommunicable Diseases.


The World Heart Federation timeline

1944 The basis and structure of the International Society of Cardiology (ISC) is designed in Mexico by Ignacio Chavez.

1946 During the 2nd InterAmerican Society of Cardiology meeting, Ignacio Chavez presents a motion to create the ISC, a professional scientific organization with a membership of national societies of cardiology, and forerunner of the World Heart Federation.

1950 The First World Congress of Cardiology (WCC) is held in Paris and then every four years until 2006, when it becomes biennial.

1957 The International Cardiology Foundation (ICF) is founded in Chicago Illinois.

1966 Now grown to three continental members and 51 national societies, the ISC creates eight new scientific councils to replace the old committee structure.

1969 In September, representatives from 15 national heart foundations, associations, societies and leagues of cardiology meet in Geneva to discuss an organizational framework of an International Cardiology Federation (ICF) to succeed the existing International Cardiology Foundation (also ICF).

1970 The International Cardiology Federation (ICF) is created at the ISC General Assembly, with the purpose of supporting international research, professional and public education, as well as community programmes. 


1978 ISC and ICF merge to become the International Society and Federation of Cardiology (ISFC), the direct predecessor to the World Heart Federation.

1996 UNESCO and WHO officially recognize ISFC with special status.

1998 ISFC board approve the change of name to World Heart Federation (WHF).

2000 WHF launches World Heart Day as an annual event on the last Sunday of each September.

2011 The United Nations (UN) historic declaration changes the global approach to NCDs, of which CVD is the greatest contributor. WHF is instrumental in achieving this UN declaration.

2013 WHF Board adopts the UN and WHO targets for CVD, launching the 25by25 campaign to reduce premature mortality from CVD by 25% by 2025.

Presidents of the World Heart Federation

1978-80 John F. Goodwin (founder of ISCP, a merger of ISC & ICF)
1981-82 Henry N. Neufeld
1983-84 Thomas N. James
1985-86 Paul Puech
1987-88 Chuichi Kawai
1989-90 Mario R. Garcia-Palmieri
1991-92 Wilhelm Rutishauser
1993-94 David T. Kelly
1995-96 Elliot Rapaport
1997-99 Antonio Bayes de Luna
1999-00 Tak-Fu Tse
2001-02 Mario F.C. Maranhao
2003-04 Philip Poole-Wilson
2005-06 Valentin Fuster
2007-08 Shahryar A Sheikh
2009-10 Pekka Puska
2011-12 Sidney C. Smith Jr
2013-14 Srinath Reddy
2015-16 Salim Yusuf
2017-18 David Wood

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