American Heart Association Applauds Hypertension Focus on World Health Day 2013

April 06, 2013 Categories: Advocacy News , Advisories & Comments

Washington, D.C., April 6, 2013 — As “World Health Day” is celebrated on Sunday, April 7, the American Heart Association praises this year’s focus on hypertension, a leading risk factor for heart disease, stroke and other non-communicable diseases.

This is the first time hypertension has been selected as the health challenge highlighted for the year-long global dialogue that follows World Health Day. Hypertension affects one in three adults worldwide. Left untreated, it increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney damage, vision loss and many other serious health problems.

“The focus for this year’s World Health Day on hypertension could not come at a more critical moment,” said American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown. “High blood pressure is treatable, if well managed, but health professionals around the world need more tools to attack this public health problem head-on.”

The American Heart Association, along with its global partners, is leading the way to establish programs and guidance for policymakers and healthcare providers to treat this very manageable condition. Association programs already in place across the United States, such as Get With The Guidelines and Life’s Simple 7, have proven effective in encouraging behavior change and improving processes in health system, and could serve as models for other countries to fight hypertension. The association is also exploring whether our consumer awareness campaigns about the dangers of too much sodium can be used in Latin America.

In addition, the American Heart Association supports the global standardization treatment project, a collaboration of the Pan American Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other stakeholders, creating a strategy and framework to standardize the pharmacologic treatment of hypertension that is both feasible and flexible for worldwide applicability. The association is also joining forces with the World Heart Federation this year to develop a scientific statement from leading international cardiologists and other experts.  The statement would focus on what public health interventions can be made to address leading risk factors such as high blood pressure to reach the World Health Organization’s global goal of reducing premature mortality by 25 percent by 2025.  

Finally, this past week the American Heart Association co-sponsored a training for journalists in Brazil featuring Heart Association volunteer Joao Lima, MD, to educate them on cardiovascular disease. This event supports “The Letter from Rio,” issued by the association and other leading international organizations, in providing suggestions to the Brazilian government that could help them in strengthening their  national plan for chronic disease, one of the outcomes of the U.N. Political Declaration on non-communicable diseases.

“The need for global action on hypertension is past due,” said Brown.  “By working together to tackle this preventable public health problem we can make great strides in the fight against heart disease and stroke.” 

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Contact: Chris Guizlo (202) 785-7935

             chris.guizlo@heart.org