The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Heart Federation are today staging awareness events in more than 100 countries to highlight risk factors associated with heart disease, which claims the lives of more than 17 million people every year.
Awareness events to mark World Heart Day, which is observed by WHO and the World Heart Federation – a non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to the fight against heart disease especially in low-and middle-income countries – include health check-ups, organized walks, runs and fitness sessions, public talks, stage shows, scientific forums, exhibitions, concerts, carnivals and sports tournaments.
People will also be made aware of the risk factors of heart disease and stroke, which include raised blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and glucose levels, smoking, inadequate intake of fruit and vegetables, overweight, obesity and physical inactivity.
Last week delegates at a UN high-level conference on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) adopted a declaration calling for a multi-pronged campaign by governments, industry and civil society to set up by 2013 the plans needed to curb the risk factors behind the four groups of NCDs – cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes.
Steps range from price and tax measures to reduce tobacco consumption to curbing the extensive marketing to children, particularly on television, of foods and beverages that are high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, sugars, or salt. Other measures seek to cut the harmful consumption of alcohol, promote overall healthy diets and increase physical activity.
The overall annual death toll from NCDs is estimated at 36 million worldwide, which means it comprises more than 60 per cent of the broader total of 57 million.