Cover Feature | Global Partnerships For a Global Agenda Against CVD

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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.

Four 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.

This 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.

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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. Just last month, 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 40th year, has been there every step of the way. 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 in March 2020 for ACC.20 Together With the World Congress of Cardiology. The Congress combines WHF's unique global perspective and ACC's leadership in science and research and will allow for a special focus on global health issues and health advocacy.

In addition to working closely with ACC to shape the content of the scientific sessions, WHF will host the third edition of the Meet & Share Forum, a unique opportunity for leaders in the field of cardiovascular disease, CEOs, managers, experts and cardiovascular disease advocates to come together and share experiences, showcase successes and discuss challenges in combating heart disease at the national, regional and global level.

The Global Health Café, supported by the Global Coalition for Circulatory Health, invites participants to explore issues related to global cardiovascular health in an open and engaging environment.

Partnerships like this one with the ACC are crucial to achieving our goals. When organizations like ours work together, we drastically increase our chances of success and take yet another step toward reaching the UN target of reducing the global burden of cardiovascular disease by one third by 2030.

I look forward to welcoming you in Chicago from March 28 to 30 for what promises to be a truly remarkable event!

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Karen Sliwa, MD, PhD, FACC, is the director of the Hatter Institute for Cardiovascular Research in Africa University of Cape Town, South Africa, and president of the World Heart Federation.

Clinical Topics: Anticoagulation Management, Arrhythmias and Clinical EP, Prevention, Anticoagulation Management and Atrial Fibrillation, Atrial Fibrillation/Supraventricular Arrhythmias, Hypertension

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

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