Bringing a Unique Global Perspective to ACC.20/WCC

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In September 2015, world leaders adopted the United Nations' (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which sets out, among others, an ambitious target to reduce mortality from cardiovascular disease by one third by 2030.

Five years on, we are still a long way from achieving this goal. Every year, 17.8 million people are dying from what is usually a preventable, treatable disease. Countries are struggling to reduce the prevalence of long-established risk factors like obesity, diabetes and hypertension. Air pollution is now responsible for 20 percent of all cardiovascular disease deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Neglected diseases like rheumatic heart disease (RHD) and Chagas continue to affect millions of people.

Women remain up to three times more likely to die following a serious heart attack than men because they receive unequal care and treatment. At least half of the world's population still does not have full coverage of essential health services. About 100 million people are being pushed into extreme poverty because of health care costs.

While there is still a lot to be done, there have been signs of progress.

In 2016, 195 countries signed the Paris Agreement which, if goals are met, could save over 1 million lives a year by 2050 through reduced air pollution. In 2018, following years of campaigning and advocacy from the RHD community, Member States of the WHO unanimously adopted a Global Resolution on Rheumatic Fever and Rheumatic Heart Disease, recognizing RHD as a global health priority.

In the past year, the WHO updated its List of Essential Medicines to include fixed-dose combination antihypertensive medications and new oral anticoagulants, which are crucial for stroke prevention and for the management of atrial fibrillation and hypertension, especially in low-resource settings.

Technological innovations are also playing a role in reducing the global burden of cardiovascular disease: smartwatches, originally designed to encourage people to exercise more, can now detect irregular heart rhythm; big data models can predict the risk of cardiovascular diseases among specific populations; and chatbots are helping health care workers keep track of their patients' health before and after health appointments.

Finally, every year, countries around the world are implementing measures to reduce the impact that tobacco, sugar-sweetened beverages and other unhealthy products are having on people's lives. Recently, Singapore became the first country in the world to ban advertisements for sugary drinks and Ukraine has increased its taxes on tobacco, which has been shown to reduce consumption of harmful tobacco products.

The World Heart Federation (WHF), now in its 42nd year, has been there every step of the way. We advocated with governments to adopt the RHD resolution, supported the application that led to direct oral anticoagulants being included in the WHO List of Essential Medicines, convened global health leaders at our Global Summit on Circulatory Health to explore innovations in cardiovascular care, and championed our members' efforts to implement change in their countries.

WHF is the principal representative body of the global cardiovascular community, bringing together 214 organizations from every region of the world. We implement and support activities aimed at raising awareness of cardiovascular disease, strengthening health systems, addressing inequities and implementing cost-effective interventions to reduce the prevalence of cardiovascular disease at the national, regional and global level.

Investing in science and research is key to achieving these goals. Therefore, we are thrilled to join forces with the ACC for ACC.20 Together With World Congress of Cardiology. Partnerships like this one are crucial to achieving our goals. When organizations like ours work together, we drastically increase our chances of success and move another step closer to reaching the UN target of reducing the global burden of cardiovascular disease by one third by 2030.

Cardiology Magazine Image

Professor Karen Sliwa, MD, PhD, FACC
President, World Heart Federation

Keywords: ACC Publications, Cardiology Magazine, Rheumatic Heart Disease, Antihypertensive Agents, Cardiovascular Diseases, Tobacco, Global Health, Risk Factors, Goals, Prevalence, Atrial Fibrillation, Health Priorities, Neglected Diseases, Leadership, Social Media, Rheumatic Fever, World Health Organization, Hypertension, Health Care Costs, Anticoagulants, Health Personnel, Stroke, Diabetes Mellitus, Climate Change, Obesity, ACC Scientific Session Newspaper 2020, ACC Scientific Session Newspaper, ACC Annual Scientific Session, acc20, ACC International

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