The Heart Foundation in New Zealand will be the first to light the torch for World Heart Day this Friday, 29 September as the Sky Tower pulsates red to raise awareness for the world’s number one killer, cardiovascular disease (CVD), which includes heart disease and stroke.
This year, the Heart Foundation is also using World Heart Day as a platform to announce its $60 million investment in life-saving heart research and specialist cardiac training since it began in 1968.
Heart Foundation Medical Director, Gerry Devlin, a cardiologist at Waikato Hospital, is thrilled to announce the charity’s latest milestone.
“The Heart Foundation is New Zealand’s leading independent funder of heart research and there is no better time than World Heart Day to announce this phenomenal achievement. $60 million of research and training has undoubtedly helped save lives and improved treatments for those living with heart disease every day,” says Devlin.
“While CVD is still the biggest killer both here and around the world, there has still been a 75% reduction in the death rate from heart disease since we began our work at the Heart Foundation in New Zealand.
“However, our fight is far from over,” Devlin says, pointing out that CVD is responsible for 17.5 million deaths worldwide and is expected to rise to 23 million in 2030, according to the World Heart Federation.
“Sadly, New Zealand is very much a part of this global trend, with CVD claiming more than 10,000 lives here each year, while 172,000 Kiwis are currently living with heart disease every day.”
Devlin says we can’t look past the crucial role research and training plays in the fight against heart disease, ensuring it remains a core focus for the heart charity.
“Since we began, the Heart Foundation has been able to fund huge breakthroughs in heart research, from discovering how to diagnose heart attacks more quickly, to knowing the best way to reduce blood pressure.
“Those advances have saved thousands of lives and vastly improved the quality of life of millions more living with heart disease.
“We are hugely grateful to those who continue to donate to the Heart Foundation, making this ground-breaking research and progress possible.
“World Heart Day is a savoury reminder of the work that still needs to be done, to stop New Zealanders dying prematurely of heart disease and help people with heart disease to live full and productive lives.”
The lighting of our tallest icon, the Sky Tower, will pay respect to the 10,000 Kiwis who die each year from CVD. This links with other landmarks and cities around the world to mark this important day, including New York’s Times Square, Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt and Table Mountain and Cape Wheel in South Africa.
World Heart Day is driven by the World Heart Federation, based out of Geneva, Switzerland, that works with its global partners to ensure this important awareness day is celebrated in over 120 countries around the world.