Worldwide Heart & Stroke Community Joins Together in New York to Make CVD an International Priority

Jun 15, 2011, 15:47 ET from American Heart Association

NEW YORK, June 15, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- World Heart Federation members from around the globe, including Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa, African Heart Network, Pakistan's Heartfile, Danish Heart Foundation, Asia Pacific Heart Network and Heart and Stroke Foundation of Barbados, gathered today in New York for a meeting hosted by the American Heart Association with United Nations country representatives to discuss the growing burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD).  As the leading cause of death worldwide, CVD claimed over 17.1 million lives in 2004 and is projected to cause an incredible 23.6 million deaths in the year 2030.  Although CVD continues to be perceived as a disease of the wealthy, in reality 82% of deaths due to cardiovascular disease occur in low and middle income countries.

The meetings in New York serve to counter this misperception and to provide concrete and first hand evidence to country representatives of the devastating impact CVD has on all parts of the globe. The meetings precede a UN Civil Society Hearing on Non-communicable diseases, comprised primarily of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory disease; that will take place tomorrow, June 16. The hearing provides civil society with an opportunity to voice its concerns and will help shape the final outcomes document of the UN High Level Summit in September. The meeting is one of many that have taken place over the last year since the UN announced they would hold a UN high level meeting on NCDs this September.

"Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the world. Countries, whether high, low or middle income, need to understand the impact this is having on their communities and their economies. Countering the myth that CVD only impacts the affluent is crucial. The more that is understood about the disease and its social determinants, the better equipped we are to make this an international development priority," says Johanna Ralston Chief Executive Officer of the World Heart Federation.

Heart and stroke organizations attending these events are working closely with the American Heart Association, whose mission is to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. 

"At the American Heart Association, we recognize the importance of addressing CVD and its risk factors in all communities. Internationally, the integration of CVD prevention and care into existing health systems, and making people aware of the risks and the social determinants of the disease will mean better care for patients. In the U.S., this includes recognizing that decisions and health behaviors are shaped and constrained by specific national circumstances. For an American family on a budget, the low financial cost of fast food, compared to the higher prices associated with fresh produce, makes it difficult to resist," says Nancy Brown CEO of the American Heart Association.  "For this reason, it is imperative that the U.S. lead the way in addressing this growing epidemic."

The World Heart Federation has partnered with three other organizations, under the umbrella organization the NCD Alliance to move the world from advocacy to action. The four organizations have a network of over 990 members that work on various projects addressing NCDs throughout the world.

Following the Mission meetings and the Civil Society Hearing, the CVD advocates will conclude their week at the American Heart Association offices in New York to discuss next steps and a three year strategy for addressing the global CVD burden.

About the American Heart Association  

The American Heart Association is the nation's oldest and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. Our mission is to build healthier lives by preventing, treating and defeating these diseases – two of America's leading killers. We fund cutting-edge research, conduct lifesaving public and professional educational programs, and advocate to protect public health. To learn more or join us in helping all Americans, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or visit

SOURCE American Heart Association