Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death and disability in the world, killing 17.5 million people a year. That means it is responsible for a third of all deaths on the planet and incredibly, rates are set to rise.
It's a terrible burden on our society, felt even more keenly in low and middle income countries where factors such as rapid urbanisation, tobacco use and obesity are starting to make themselves felt.
Globally, 1 in 10 people aged 30 to 70 die prematurely from CVD, including heart disease and stroke. It all seems like a needless waste of life, particularly when we know that 80 per cent of these deaths could be postponed or avoided entirely.
World Heart Day, taking place on 29 September, was created in 2000 by the World Heart Federation (WHF) as a platform to bring people from around the world together to tackle the world's biggest killer and improve heart health.
This year we want people to understand that the power to make a difference is in their hands; and that simple lifestyle changes can save lives.
These changes can be as small as taking the stairs instead of the lift or getting off the bus a stop early. If you smoke, use this international day as an opportunity to quit. Always try to eat healthily and modestly and get your children involved in food preparation so they can learn about good food and heart health from a young age. Getting your blood pressure checked regularly is another good way to keep on top of your heart health.
If you are making a change this World Heart Day, inspire people around the world by sharing your tips or your healthy heart selfie on the website or using #WorldHeartDay.
I'd also urge you to get involved in an event near you to be inspired to make a change. From walks and talks to health screenings and fun runs, WHD 2017 offers people the chance to enjoy themselves while raising awareness of this killer disease. For a full list of events take a look at our Worldwide Activities Map on the World Heart Day website.
You may also be lucky enough to witness landmarks and monuments across the world light up red in support of the day. This year these will include the Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, Table Mountain in Cape Town, the Nasdaq screen in Times Square (which you can watch via live webcam link), the Singapore Flyer, the Sky Tower in New Zealand, Avala Tower in Belgrade, Angel de la Reforma in Mexico City and the Jet d'Eau in Geneva, Switzerland, the home of the World Heart Federation.
World Heart Day is our chance to bring people together to tackle the world's biggest killer and urge more people across the globe to improve their heart health. By coming together we can share the power and reduce the burden of, and premature deaths from, CVD, helping people everywhere to live longer, better, heart-healthy lives.