World Heart Day

More than 18.5 million people worldwide die each year from heart-related illnesses. That’s more than twice as many deaths caused by all cancers combined.

Fortunately, the primary causes of cardiovascular diseases are generally preventable. They include smoking tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption. As well as poor diet and lack of exercise.

Unfortunately, too many people smoke and drink too much. And eat unhealthy foods or live a sedentary lifestyle. Many fail to keep an eye on their blood pressure and cholesterol.

As a result, some suffer from various conditions. Including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity. And that can lead to heart attacks, strokes and heart failure. Plus other episodes and conditions that can be deadly. 

80% of Deaths Could Be Avoided

The World Heart Federation (WHF) believes 80 percent of premature deaths from heart disease and stroke could be avoided. That’s one of the reasons they launched an annual initiative being celebrated today.

In 1999, the WHF announced the establishment of World Heart Day. In collaboration with the World Health Organization. The international event was originally observed the last Sunday in September. Now it’s observed on September 29.

The day is intended to increase awareness of cardiovascular disease. Including warning signs and steps for prevention. Plus how to assist others suffering from it. As well as awareness about its global impact. 

Why is this necessary? Because cardiovascular diseases are the most common causes of death globally. They represent 31 percent of deaths. And about 50 percent of deaths from non-communicable diseases.

Cardiovascular disease can also have a major economic impact. Mainly due to exorbitant healthcare costs associated with treatment. Not to mention absenteeism at work.

Approximately $200 billion is spent on healthcare services, medication and lost productivity in America. That’s each year! 

Use Heart to Connect

The WHF communicates educational information about heart health on World Heart Day. Through forums, public talks, podcasts, posters and leaflets. And they declare a theme for the day each year. This year’s theme is “Use Heart to Connect.”

The goal in 2021 is to harness the power of digital health. In order to improve awareness, prevention and management of cardiovascular disease globally. Digital tools including phone apps and wearables can help people get motivated. And stay on track.

Other strategies to create awareness and offer guidance include free health checks. Plus fitness sessions, runs such as 5Ks and marathons, and walks. As well as concerts, fundraising events, sporting events, exhibitions and science fairs. 

Some landmarks, monuments and buildings “go red” on this day in support. In addition, teams of international cardiovascular researchers meet. They discuss the newest science and share ideas. 

More than 90 countries participate in World Heart Day activities. Governmental and non-governmental agencies have gotten involved around the globe.

How Can We Observe World Heart Day? 

The WHF encourages Americans to ask this simple question in connection with World Heart Day. “What can I do right now to look after my heart?” There are a number of ways we can observe World Heart Day today.

One would be finding a World Heart Day event near you and participating. Possibly by getting a heart checkup.

A second would be determining to maintain a healthy weight and low body mass. One way to do that would be starting a fitness regimen. Either at home or at a nearby gym.

A third way would be by signing up for a CPR class. Learning how to resuscitate someone could save a life. 

Are WHF’s Goals Realistic?

The WHF was established in 1944. It’s the world’s leading non-governmental organization dedicated to cardiovascular disease prevention.

More than 200 organizations across 100 countries are WHF members.

The WHF’s goal is to reduce premature deaths from major non-communicable diseases by 25 percent. They want to accomplish this by 2025.

The goal for 2030? To reduce by one-third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases. Through prevention and treatment. And also promoting mental health and wellbeing.

Hearts by the Numbers

Here are a few statistics about hearts you may not be aware of:

  • 115,000 – the number of times your heart beats in a day
  • 2,000 – the number of gallons of blood pumped by your heart every day 
  • 1893 – the year in which the first open-heart surgery took place
  • 3,500 – the age in years of an Egyptian mummy in which the earliest known case of heart disease was identified
  • 1,200 – the fastest heartbeat per minute – that of the pygmy shrew 
  • 1 pound – the weight of a human heart
  • 60,000 – the number of miles our blood vessel system can extend to
  • 1,500 pounds – the weight of a blue whale’s heart 
  • 1.5 gallons – the amount of blood pumped by your heart each minute
  • 10 – the percentage of American children who have high blood pressure due to the consumption of too much sodium

It’s up to us to take care of our hearts so that we can live longer, heart-healthy lives. And not just today on World Heart Day.

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