Heart disease amid top threats to global health in 2019

By June Shannon Heart News   |   18th Jan 2019

Air pollution and climate change, those who refuse vaccines and antibiotic resistance also listed among the top ten threats to global health in 2019 by the WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified non-communicable diseases which include cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke), as one of the top ten threats to global health in 2019.

A noncommunicable disease (NCD) is a chronic medical condition or disease that is not infectious and cannot be transmitted among people.

According to the WHO, non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, are collectively responsible for more than 70 per cent of all deaths worldwide, or 41 million people. This includes 15 million people dying prematurely, between the ages of 30 and 69.

Non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, are collectively responsible for more than 70 per cent of all deaths worldwide or 41 million people.

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“Over 85 per cent of these premature deaths are in low- and middle-income countries. The rise of these diseases has been driven by five major risk factors: tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diets and air pollution. These risk factors also exacerbate mental health issues, that may originate from an early age: half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14, but most cases go undetected and untreated – suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-19-year-olds,” the WHO stated.

The WHO added that it would work with governments to help them meet the global target of reducing physical inactivity by 15 per cent by 2030.

In 2016 more than 9,000 people in Ireland lost their lives to cardiovascular disease with almost half dying from heart disease.

Cardiovascular disease includes all diseases of the heart and circulation but most commonly it refers to coronary heart disease (angina, heart attack), stroke and other blood vessel diseases. Other conditions include congenital heart disease, heart valve disease and disease of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy).

" The good news is that 80 per cent of premature heart disease and stroke is preventable,"

Dr Angie Brown, Medical Director , Irish Heart Foundation

In addition to non-communicable diseases, the WHO also listed air pollution and climate change, vaccine hesitancy, a global influenza pandemic, antibiotic resistance and HIV among the top ten threats to global health in 2019.

Dr Angie Brown, Medical Director of the Irish Heart Foundation, said the WHO had identified a rise in the prevalence of noncommunicable disease such as cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) diabetes, and cancer in low- and middle-income countries and noted they were responsible for 70 per cent of all deaths.

“Though things have improved a lot in Ireland, these diseases are still responsible for most deaths here too. The good news is that 80 per cent of premature heart disease and stroke is preventable. Lifestyle measures such as stopping smoking, having a healthy diet and weight, checking for and treating diabetes, treating high blood pressure and cholesterol can all help. The WHO is also targeting physical activity and we welcome their goal of reducing physical inactivity by 15 per cent by 2030.”

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