The editorial is issued in conjunction with World Heart Day September 29 a day sponsored by the Geneva-based World Heart Federation, of which the American Heart Association is a founding member. Leaders of the American Heart Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute wrote the editorial.
"We must do a more effective job of translating scientific advances into programs that can save lives in all parts of the world. These advances have led to enormous gains in cardiovascular disease knowledge, but a gap remains in implementing this knowledge. The message must be loud and clear to world leaders, health-care providers and the public that much of the death and disability from cardiovascular disease is preventable," says Robert O. Bonow, M.D., president of the American Heart Association and lead author of the editorial.
The editorial attacks a myth that atherosclerosis, the narrowing of the arteries that underlies heart disease and most strokes, is a disease of affluence. World Heart Federation statistics show that 80 percent of cardiovascular disease deaths occur in low-to-middle income countries, such as China, Russia and Poland.
Heart disease and stroke killed 17 million people worldwide in 1999, which is about 30 percent of all deaths. This is significantly higher than the 14.7 million cardiovascular deaths reported in 1990. The underlying causes include an increasingly overweight, diabetic, sedentary, tobacco-smoking world population.
"In the United States, we are already facing a crisis in cardiovascular disease, with an obesity and diabetes epidemic, an aging, sedentary population and a widening access-to-care gap
Contact: Carole Bullock
American Heart Association