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On World Heart Day, 29 September 2019, the World Heart Federation calls for heart health equity … because every heartbeat matters

27 Sep 2019

Not all hearts are equal … but they should be

WHF, our Members and Partners believe in a world where heart health for everyone is a fundamental human right and a crucial element of health justice. Regardless of country, region, origin, race, gender, age, education and incomes, each human being is entitled to cardiovascular health and wellbeing through health promotion, access to prevention, control and management of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Sadly, this is not the case today.

World Heart Day is the biggest awareness-raising platform for CVD and this year we are using it to shine a spotlight on heart health inequities. One of the most pressing issues remains access to essential cardiovascular medicines: two billion people, around one-third of the global population, lack access to the medicines they need, mostly affecting those in underserved countries, regions or isolated areas within cities.  Despite being the number one cause of death and disability, providing access to CVD medicines is not high on the global agenda.

In all global income settings, there is also increasing evidence that higher rates of cardiovascular events and barriers to accessing healthcare are linked to socioeconomic determinants of health, including education and health awareness.

But other things can also contribute to heart health inequity:

  • Air pollution is responsible for 25% of cardiovascular deaths (WHO) putting those living in cities at greater risk
  • A healthy diet is essential to lower CVD risk, yet in many schools, offices, hospitals and homes people are still offered energy-dense foods and are faced with limited healthy choices
  • In countries where smoking bans are not in place, people often have no choice but to work and socialize in places where secondhand smoke increases their CVD risk
  • Lack of safe, outdoor spaces or cycle paths can also limit individual’s ability to be more active, increasing CVD risk
  • Genetic background and specific geographies may also predispose certain populations to increased risk of CVD

Professor Karen Sliwa, WHF President, comments:

“Within my home country of South Africa, as in so many areas of the world, certain population groups are affluent with access to excellent education and health care, while the majority remain poorly educated, residing in absolute or relative poverty. No matter where in the world they occur, socioeconomic determinants of health and poverty have profound effects on CVD patterns and its prevention, worsened by late diagnosis and limited access to various forms of diseases management.

“Along with targeted advocacy, World Heart Day, with its global reach and diversity, plays an important part in WHF’s strategy to raise awareness of these issues and spread the message of heart-healthy lifestyles in all populations. Yet again this year I will be helping to organize and support events in my home of Cape Town. I believe that raising awareness in this way is part of my personal and professional duty, because much can still be done to achieve heart health in South Africa and beyond.” 

My Heart, Your Heart

Created and led by the World Heart Federation (WHF), World Heart Day aims to combat the rising of people with cardiovascular disease (CVD) and champion heart health equity. The 2019 campaign, in partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim, Manulife and Pfizer, is about creating a global network of Heart Heroes, all inspiring each other to look after our hearts by making and keeping a promise:

  • A promise to our families to cook and eat more healthily, exercise more and stop using tobacco
  • A promise to our children to help them to be more active and to say no to smoking
  • A promise as healthcare professionals to help patients to control their CVD risk factors
  • A promise as policymakers to implement an NCD action plan
  • A promise for MY HEART, YOUR HEART

On 29 September, people all around the world will unite to fight CVD by making and sharing their own campaign posters online, holding awareness activities and events, spreading the word on social media, sharing the campaign videos, organizing fundraising activities for their local heart foundation and illuminating iconic landmarks, buildings or monuments.

To make your promise to support heart health this World Heart Day, visit and create and share your own poster and promise on social media using #WorldHeartDay and tagging