7 million people die annually from Cardiovascular Disease – WHF, SASNET-Ghana

Cardiovascular Disease

By: Franklin ASARE-DONKOH

The World Heart Federation (WHF) and Stroke Association Support Network-Ghana (SASNET-Ghana) are calling on the governments of Ghana, Civil Society Organisation (CSOs), and global industries, to adopt Net-Zero Solutions to tackle global warming and curb air pollution.

According to the group, air pollution is responsible for 25% of all deaths from cardiovascular disease, taking the lives of 7 million people annually.

A new global survey by WHF highlights the global concern surrounding the link between climate change and cardiovascular disease, with climate change and air pollution ranked as the third most serious issue in relation to cardiovascular health among the respondents.

The call was contained in a joint statement issued by the SASNET-Ghana and WHF as part of activities earmarked to celebrate the 2022 edition of World Heart Day which is celebrated each year on 29 September to raise awareness and mobilize international action against Cardiovascular Disease (CVD).

The theme for this year’s commemoration is “USE HEART FOR EVERY HEART. With a focus on 3 pillars: USE FOR HUMANITY- Inequality – Healthcare Access, USE FOR NATURE –Planet – Pollution, and USE FOR YOU-Pressure –Stress.

The survey also revealed that awareness of healthcare inequity is growing. In response to a question about which global issues affected cardiovascular health the most, the second most common answer was social inequality and access to healthcare.

These survey insights, combined with almost 80% of participants believing that government action can significantly reduce the burden of CVD in their countries, underline the important role of policymakers.

WHF and SASNET-GHANA are, therefore, urging the government of Ghana through the Ministry of Health, public and private Healthcare providers to help improve cardiovascular health and to prevent CVD mortality by issuing regular reminders to at-risk groups about the dangers of extreme weather events, including tips on managing excessive heat events.

“We know what works in prevention and in treatment of the world’s biggest killer. It is time for scaled-up implementation and shared responsibility. Beating cardiovascular disease should matter to every beating heart.” The statement added.

Below is the full statement.

CLIMATE CHANGE AND HEALTH INEQUITY A DEADLY MIX FOR THE MOST VULNERABLE: WORLD HEART FEDERATION AND STROKE ASSOCIATION SUPPORT NETWORK-GHANA (SASNET-GHANA)

29 September 2022 -On World Heart Day, the World Heart Federation (WHF) and the Stroke Association Support network-Ghana (SASNET-GHANA) are calling for urgent action on climate change and health inequity, with millions more lives now at risk from cardiovascular disease, which is still the world’s biggest killer.

World Heart Day is celebrated each year on 29 September to raise awareness and mobilize international action against Cardiovascular Disease (CVD), the leading cause of death on the planet. It is the global initiative under which individuals, governments, and the entire heart community come together to engage in fun activities, increase public education, and advocate for universal access to CVD prevention, detection, and treatment. The theme for this year’s World Heart Day 2022 is “USE HEART FOR EVERY HEART. With a focus on 3 pillars they are;

1. USE FOR HUMANITY- Inequality – Healthcare Access

Access to treatment and support for CVD varies widely across the world. Over 75% of CVD deaths occur in low- to middle-income countries, but access can be an issue anywhere. By getting involved with global events such as World Heart Day, as well as local activities, we are empowered to spread awareness and help make a difference in the lives of all humankind

2. USE FOR NATURE –Planet – Pollution

Air pollution is responsible for 25% of all CVD deaths, taking the lives of 7 million people every year. Whether they are more immediate actions like

Walking or cycling instead of traveling by car, or longer-term efforts such as supporting clean air legislation, each of us can contribute to a healthier planet in our own way.

3. USE FOR YOU-Pressure -Stress

Psychological stress can double the risk of having a heart attack. Exercise, mediation, and getting enough quality sleep help lower stress levels.

By resisting the harmful coping mechanisms and bad habits induced by stress, we can maximize our individual heart health.

2022 has seen historic heat waves and, with climate change disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable populations, we can expect a further widening of the gap in global cardiovascular healthcare equity. Climate change and related air pollution is already responsible for 25% of all deaths from cardiovascular disease, killing 7 million people annually.

Professor Fausto Pinto, President of WHF, says: “Millions of already vulnerable people are doubly exposed to extreme weather events and limited access to healthcare. World leaders must step up efforts on the two biggest threats of our time: climate change and global health inequity.”

Pakistan is currently battling one of its worst climate-related disasters. According to the World Heart Observatory, almost 1/4 of all deaths are due to the country’s cardiovascular disease, and air pollution is the second leading risk factor for death and disability. Additionally, 50% of the population does not have access to primary healthcare services.

The situation is not different for the country. In Ghana, Ho, the capital of the Volta region of Ghana is the only city that has made strides toward achieving a clean air atmosphere. Working hand in hand with the World Health Organisation (WHO), WHF and SASNET-GHANA are calling on governments, civil society, and global industry to meet net-zero targets, tackle global warming and curb air pollution, and deliver healthcare access for all.

“Climate change is not about polar bears or icebergs anymore. It’s about people’s health, especially poor people’s health. We need to reduce emissions in the name of health otherwise we will see more and more disasters and more suffering everywhere,” says Dr. Maria Neira Director of the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health at WHO.

A new global survey by WHF highlights the global concern surrounding the link between climate change and cardiovascular disease, with climate change and air pollution ranked as the third most serious issue in relation to cardiovascular health among the respondents. The survey also revealed that awareness of healthcare inequity is growing. In response to a question about which global issues affected cardiovascular health the most, the second most common answer was social inequality and access to healthcare. These survey insights, combined with almost 80% of participants believing that government action can significantly reduce the burden of CVD in their countries, underline the important role of policymakers.

WHF and SASNET-GHANA are urging the government of Ghana (Ministry of Health), Healthcare providers to help improve cardiovascular health and to prevent CVD mortality by issuing regular reminders to at-risk groups about the dangers of extreme weather events, including tips on managing excessive heat events.

“We know what works in prevention and in treatment of the world’s biggest killer. It is time for scaled-up implementation and shared responsibility. Beating cardiovascular disease should matter to every beating heart.” Prof Pinto adds.

Air pollution is responsible for 25% of all deaths from cardiovascular disease, taking the lives of 7 million people annually.

Over 75% of premature deaths from CVD occur in low- and middle-income countries including Ghana and half the world’s population has no access to essential health services.

Despite the shadow that the coronavirus pandemic continues to cast (with the death toll approaching 6.5 million), CVD remains the world’s most giant killer, claiming three times as many lives (18.6 million) every year.

The Stroke Association Support network-Ghana (SASNET-GHANA) and the World Heart Federation in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Health Promotion Division of the Ghana Health Service, Eastern Regional Health directorate, District Health directorate New Juaben will hold a walk for heart, social media, and media engagement to commemorate the 2022 World Heart Day.

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