The World Heart Foundation organizes World Heart Day, an international campaign held on September 29 to inform people about cardiovascular diseases, which are the biggest cause of death. The day promotes preventative measures to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
What Happens on World Heart Day?
Governments and non-government organizations celebrate and promote World Heart Day with activities such as fun runs, public talks, concerts, and sporting events. The World Heart Federation organizes awareness events in more than 100 countries. They include:
- Health checks.
- Sports events, including walks, runs and fitness sessions.
- Public talks and science forums
- Stage shows and concerts.
These activities are done in partnership with organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), which is the UN’s directing and coordinating health authority.
World Heart Day is a global observance but it is not a public holiday.
Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death worldwide and this is projected to remain so, according to WHO. About 17.5 million people died from cardiovascular disease in 2005, representing 30 percent of all global deaths. Risk factors that may lead to heart disease and stroke include:
- Raised blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels.
- Inadequate intake of fruit and vegetables.
World Heart Day was created to inform people around the globe that heart disease and stroke are the world’s leading cause of death. Together with organizations such as WHO, the World Heart Federation spreads the news that at least 80 percent of premature deaths from heart disease and stroke could be avoided if the main risk factors – which are tobacco, unhealthy diet, and physical inactivity – are controlled. World Heart Day started in 1999 and is held on the last Sunday of September every year.
World Heart Day Meaning
World Heart Day 2020 is a global campaign in which individuals, families, communities, and governments around the world participate in activities to take charge of their heart health and that of others. The World Heart Federation tries to unite people from all countries and backgrounds in the fight against the CVD. World Heart Day is a step towards inspiring and driving international action to encourage heart-healthy living across the world.
Major Heart Disease
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD):
Coronary heart disease can give you pain in your chest, called angina, or lead to a heart attack.
Some things that may put you at a higher risk of coronary artery disease are:
- Age (For men, the risk of heart disease goes up after age 55; for women, the risk rises sharply after menopause.)
- Being inactive
- Having diabetes or metabolic syndrome
- Family history of coronary heart disease
- High blood pressure
- High levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol or low levels of HDL “good” cholesterol
When you have an arrhythmia, your heart has an irregular beating pattern. Serious arrhythmias often develop from other heart problems but may also happen on their own.
With heart failure, your heart doesn’t pump blood as well as it should to meet your body’s needs. It is usually caused by coronary artery disease, but it can also happen because you have thyroid disease, high blood pressure, heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy), or certain other conditions.
Heart Valve Disease
Your heart has four valves that open and close to direct blood flow between your heart’s four chambers, the lungs, and blood vessels. A defect could make it hard for a valve to open and close the right way. When that happens, your blood flow could be blocked or blood can leak. Your valve may not open and close right.
The causes of heart valve problems include infections such as rheumatic fever, congenital heart disease, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, or as a result of a heart attack.
- Endocarditis. This is an infection that’s usually caused by bacteria, which may enter the blood and take root in your heart during illness, after surgery, or after using intravenous drugs. It often happens if you already have valve problems. Antibiotics can usually cure it, but the disease is life-threatening without treatment.
If your heart valves are seriously damaged as a result of endocarditis, you may need valve replacement surgery.
- Rheumatic heart disease. This condition develops when your heart muscle and valves are damaged by rheumatic fever, which is linked to strep throat and scarlet fever.
Rheumatic heart disease was more common earlier in the 20th century. But doctors are now able to prevent it by using antibiotics to treat the diseases that lead to it. If you do get it, the symptoms usually show up many years after the infection.
Any disease of the pericardium, the sac that surrounds your heart, is called a pericardial disease. One of the more common diseases is pericarditis or inflammation of the pericardium.
It’s usually caused by an infection with a virus, inflammatory diseases such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, or injury to your pericardium. Pericarditis often follows open heart surgery.
Cardiomyopathy (Heart Muscle Disease):
Cardiomyopathy is a disease of your heart muscle or myocardium. It gets stretched, thickened, or stiff. Your heart may get too weak to pump well.
There are many possible causes of the disease, including genetic heart conditions, reactions to certain drugs or toxins (such as alcohol), and infections from a virus. Sometimes, chemotherapy causes cardiomyopathy. Many times, doctors can’t find the exact cause.
Congenital Heart Disease:
Congenital heart disease happens when something goes wrong while the heart is forming in a baby that’s still in the womb. The heart defect sometimes leads to problems right after birth, but other times there aren’t any symptoms until you become an adult.
Septal defects are among the most common congenital heart problems. These are holes in the wall that divides the left and right sides of your heart. You can get surgery to patch the hole.
Another type of defect is called pulmonary stenosis. A narrow valve causes a decrease in the flow of blood to your lungs. Surgery can open or replace the valve.
In some babies, a small blood vessel known as the ductus arteriosus doesn’t close up at birth as it should. When this happens, some blood leaks back into the pulmonary artery, which puts a strain on your heart. Doctors can treat this with surgery or sometimes with medication.