This World Heart Day, the World Heart Federation (WHF) is urging all sectors and citizens to join forces and take down cardiovascular disease (CVD) from its "number one killer" position.

Conditions of the heart or blood vessels including stroke and heart failure killed more than 20 million people in 2021 yet up to 80 per cent of premature heart attacks and strokes can be prevented. Many affected by high-trending CVD rates include those under 55 years of age, and people in low- and middle-income countries and in some high-income countries. The global #UseHeart movement springs from the annual World Heart Day campaign to drive year-long awareness and action to reverse the debilitating impacts of CVD.

Professor Daniel J. Piñeiro, President of WHF said: "The figures are so staggering that in 2013, ischaemic heart disease featured in the Guinness Book of World Records. We want to set a new record, one that improves the health and access to care for every citizen and mobilises everyone to improve cardiovascular health." 

CVD prevalence can be traced to gaps in care systems, variable access to prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Though relatively easy to monitor and treat, high blood pressure remains the leading risk factor for developing CVD.   National health systems must expand coverage of essential services for CVD and other circulatory conditions, prioritise primary care and early screening, allocate public funding and ensure an adequate workforce. 

Lifestyle and affording beneficial daily choices are also key factors in maintaining healthy hearts. Proper nutrition, recreation and regular exercise, sleep, and rest are vital; the same goes for staying off tobacco and avoiding harmful use of alcohol.

The #UseHeart movement's inaugural partnership with Iqniter, a leader in health training devices to encourage physical activity through its Counting Hearts Initiative, is one example of global collaboration. Iqniter will donate part of the proceeds from sales of its precision heart rate armbands in support of WHF's vision of cardiovascular health for all.

WHF has also teamed up with Nick Seluk, the artist and comics illustrator in the character of Awkward Yeti with an Instagram following of more than 1.9 million globally. Seluk's illustrations on health care themes including this one for WHF has drawn the admiration of medical practitioners and lay persons alike for its hard-hitting messages to raise awareness around the globe.

"Through World Heart Day and the year-long #UseHeart movement, the World Heart Federation reaches more than 2 billion people every year. With all that we know, improving cardiovascular health is definitely achievable. This is everyone's movement and everyone's chance to make change for good," said Professor Piñeiro.