World Heart Day
the last Sunday in September (2000 to 2010)
annually on September 29th (since 2011)
Antonio Bayés de Luna in 1999
World Health Organization (WHO) in 1999
World Heart Federation (WHF) in 1999
Cardiovascular disease is a class of diseases that affects the heart and blood vessels. It exists when the "heart's functions become compromised" and is "a broad term that covers any disorder to the system that has the heart at its center." Coronary heart diseases, like heart attacks, and cerebrovascular diseases, like strokes, make up about 85% of cardiovascular disease. Coronary heart diseases consist of heart problems that are caused by narrowed coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart. Some other conditions that classify as cardiovascular disease are arrhythmia, deep vein thrombosis, and pulmonary embolism.
The heart can be weakened by stress, tobacco use, unhealthy eating, alcohol abuse, and physical inactivity, leading to a greater risk for cardiovascular disease. Having diabetes is another risk factor. Physiological factors like hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, and pre-existing heart conditions can weaken the cardiovascular system, and family history, age, sex, and ethnic background can also affect susceptibility to cardiovascular disease. The more risk factors that are present, the greater chance of getting the disease. Individuals can control some of the factors, and governments and policymakers can encourage positive behaviors by providing access to affordable healthy food, taking steps to ensure the air is clean, and making sure there are high-quality urban spaces for physical activity.
World Heart Day is the world's largest event raising awareness for and fighting against cardiovascular disease. It informs people of the global impact of cardiovascular disease and that it is the leading cause of death, and highlights and encourages actions that can be taken by individuals to prevent and control it. For example, it educates people that more than 80% of cardiovascular disease deaths can be avoided by discontinuing risk factors like tobacco use, unhealthy diet, and lack of physical activity.
Antoni Bayés de Luna, president of the World Heart Foundation from 1997–1999, came up with the idea for World Heart Day. The World Heart Federation created it in 1999, in conjunction with the World Health Organization, and it was first observed in 2000. Over 90 countries participate each year, and each year there is a different theme. A range of people—individuals, families, communities, and governments—take part to take charge of their heart health and have an effect on the heart health of others. Walks, runs, free health checks, and other events that have a positive impact on public health are held. Meetings of scientists and gatherings of international cardiovascular research organizations are held on the day or during the lead-up to it. Public talks and podcasts are common. Custom posters and social media posts are made. Landmarks, monuments, and buildings are illuminated red.
How to Observe World Heart Day
You could take part in the day in some of the following ways:
- Create a custom poster or social media post. Make sure to use the hashtag #UseHeart when sharing.
- Explore and utilize World Heart Day resources.
- Share your story or read the stories of how others are taking part or took part in World Heart Day.
- Watch the World Heart Federation's "Heart to Heart" debate series.
- Find a landmark, monument, or building being lit red for the day, or help initiate one's lighting.
- Take steps to lead a healthier life, in an effort to avoid cardiovascular disease, and encourage others to do the same.
- Find an event related to the day to attend, such as a walk, run, health check, or public talk.
- Learn more about World Heart Day's global partners.
- Check the day's official website for information specific to this year's observance.
- Donate to the World Heart Foundation.