Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the world's biggest killer, and is currently the cause of death in 1 in 10 people aged 30-70. This is a shocking, needless waste of life; a large proportion of these premature deaths from CVD could be avoided1 by addressing the risk factors such as tobacco use, raised blood pressure and physical inactivity; and improving the use of simple treatments after a heart attack or stroke.
To help facilitate action on an international scale that will prevent these deaths, the World Heart Federation (WHF) has launched an interactive tool. The CVD World Monitor brings together World Health Organization (WHO) data from around the world in order to help countries to track their progress in reducing the rates of CVD risk factors, and their progress towards achieving the WHO Global Action Plan Target of reducing the number of premature deaths from NCDs by 25% by 2025.
The good news is that the CVD World Monitor shows that some countries are making progress towards this goal, for example the Republic of Korea, where the likelihood of dying prematurely due to CVD was low, has further decreased, showing good progress.2 However, many countries have shown slow progress. This is particularly true of low to middle-income countries which are disproportionately affected by CVD deaths, resulting in the burden of policymakers struggling to find resources to both control and prevent CVD as disease rates continue to increase.
Perhaps more worrying are the gaps in data, where we simply don't know what the disease burden is. Reliable data is imperative to providing the evidence needed to form accurate and impactful policy which will tackle and prevent CVD, strengthen health systems and ensure that people get the best care.
One of the most pressing risk factors for CVD highlighted by the World Monitor is obesity. Obesity increases the likelihood of hypertension, coronary heart disease and stroke, and WHO has set a target of a 0% increase in obesity rates by 2025.
However, the global prevalence of obesity almost doubled between 1980 and 2014, resulting in more than half a billion adults worldwide classified as obese. The Monitor shows that in some places in the world, such as the Oceania region, obesity is at an all-time high. Worryingly the rates of both obesity and diabetes are still increasing in many countries in this region.
In addition to the WHO GAP Targets, and in order to provide a wider view of CVD in the world, the Monitor will incorporate additional health indicators and data, case studies, and anecdotal country examples. These will be developed to create a living tool that everyone can use to understand and join the fight against CVD.
Worldwide high quality data is key to us winning the fight against CVD, and we hope that this global tool will equip governments, policy makers, civil society, and the health care industry with the vital information required to monitor and identify gaps in the current data to mark a call for action, and also review current progress towards reducing premature mortality from CVD, and to make a compelling case for better global and national monitoring and surveillance of populations.
2 The risk fell by 33% between 2010 and 2012 - 3% in 2010, 2% in 2012 (WHO data)