New Health Policy Statement Urges Timely Global Action to Curb Preventable Death From CVD

The Global Cardiovascular Disease Taskforce, a group of experts representing the ACC Foundation (ACCF), World Heart Federation, American Heart Association, European Heart Network and European Society of Cardiology, jointly released a health policy statement urging timely global action to save preventable death from cardiovascular disease (CVD), including heart disease and stroke on Sept. 17.

According to the document, CVD is the leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for 17.3 million deaths per year and making up nearly half of the 36 million non-communicable disease (NCD) deaths. The number of deaths related to CVD is expected to grow to more than 23.6 million by 2030.

On the one year anniversary of the United Nations High-level meeting on NCDs, the taskforce is calling on government and the cardiovascular community to accelerate the progress on the commitments made last year and support the ten evidence-based targets, including the top four exposure targets on physical activity, tobacco, dietary salt intake and hypertension/blood pressure. By focusing on these top four targets, the goal is to achieve the following by 2025:

  • A 10 percent relative reduction in prevalence of insufficient physical activity in adults aged 18+ years;
  • A 30 percent relative reduction in prevalence of current tobacco smoking;
  • A 30 percent relative reduction in mean adult (aged 18+) population intake of salt, with aim of achieving recommended level of less than 5 grams per day; and
  • A 25 percent relative reduction in prevalence of raised blood pressure.

The taskforce is also advocating for adoption of the remaining targets, which cover fat intake (saturated and trans-fatty acids), cholesterol, obesity, excessive alcohol intake as well as drug therapy and essential medicines to prevent and treat CVD. However, the taskforce notes that this focus on the top four exposures is the first step required to achieve the overarching goal of a 25 percent reduction in premature mortality by 2015, a goal that was determined this past May at the 65th World Health Assembly in Geneva.

In addition, with CVD costing governments nearly $863 billion globally, the taskforce also recommends the uptake of a set of interventions designed by the World Health Organization, which includes cost-effective treatments that can be delivered regardless of the income level of a country. These include the widespread adoption of multidrug therapy regiment of aspirin, a statin, and blood pressure-lowering agents to prevent heart disease and stroke and to treat those with, or at high risk of, heart disease and stroke. "Studies have indicated that nearly 17.9 million deaths could be averted over a 10-year period with the implementation of multidrug therapy," note the authors of the statement. In addition, "the cost would amount to just over a dollar a day," they add.

"The treatments are out there, and they are feasible and cost-effective; we need to make them available and affordable around the globe for a healthier outcome," said ACC President William Zoghbi, MD, FACC.

"We now have the opportunity to make meaningful changes in our countries by adopting evidence-based targets and implementing tactics that will guide health policy, chronic disease plans and, ultimately, resources for national public health interventions," note the authors of the statement. "Collaboration among appropriate stakeholders will be necessary to address this emerging 21st century global health priority and begin to reverse the devastating toll of cardiovascular disease and NCDs in our communities."

The statement was released just ahead of World Heart Day on Sept. 29. The College and other stakeholders worldwide are participating in activities focused on prevention for women and children. More information on ACC World Heart Day activities is posted on both the ACC and CardioSmart Facebook pages.

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