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The World Heart Observatory: Harnessing the Power of Data for Cardiovascular Health

07 Jun 2022

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the world’s number one cause of death, claiming an estimated 18.6 million lives in 2019. That statistic is staggering. Most importantly, an estimated 80% of deaths from heart disease and stroke could be avoided with early interventions that span the continuum from education and prevention to diagnosis and treatment. As the COVID-19 pandemic has proven, health data is a powerful tool for use across the continuum of care. Some initiatives, such as Our World in Data, demonstrated the potential for the use of data to understand the spread of disease, spot emerging trends, identify the most vulnerable populations, and evaluate the impact of various clinical and public health interventions.

Data and information are key to understanding needs, trends, causes, responses, and prediction in global cardiovascular health. Accurate information helps policymakers, researchers and programme implementers grasp the true burden of cardiovascular disease and its risk factors, understand why certain populations are affected differently by the same disease, identify missed opportunities for the detection and management of cardiovascular risk at population and health system levels, obtain insight into best interventions, plan resources, and monitor progress.

Valuable data initiatives for CVD and other non-communicable diseases exist at global, national, and regional levels, including the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration, the Global Burden of Disease, the PURE Study, the Prospective Studies Collaboration, and many others are conducted by World Heart Federation Members. Indeed, the world has never had more data initiatives. There is, however, insufficient coordination and alignment among them, as data projects span different domains, platforms, organizations, and methodological approaches. There is thus a need for these data initiatives to be mapped, collated, and curated to transform health data into actionable knowledge.

The World Heart Federation has a unique opportunity to mobilize the cardiovascular health community around the different data initiatives and leverage the current digital revolution. Building on the strength of its +200 Members around the world, on its official relations with the World Health Organization, and on its mission to translate science into policy, WHF launched the World Heart Observatory on 1 February 2022 as a collaborative platform that collates high-quality data from different sources to provide the most reliable information related to cardiovascular conditions, risk factors, and interventions.

Read the full-text of this editorial in our journal Global Heart.