Public Release:  World Heart Federation says heart health starts earlier than you think

Half of people incorrectly believe we should wait until age 30 or older before taking action to prevent heart disease and stroke, survey finds

World Heart Federation

A new multi-national survey reveals the extent of misconceptions about when is the right time to start taking action to prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD). In a four-country survey sample of 4,000 adults, 49 per cent answered age 30 years or older when asked at what age they believe people should start to take action about their heart health to prevent conditions such as heart disease and stroke. The fact is that CVD can affect people of all ages and population groups, and the risk begins early in life through unhealthy diets, lack of physical activity and exposure to tobacco. On World Heart Day, 29th September, the World Heart Federation is calling for people - specifically mothers who are gatekeepers to the home - to take action now to protect their own heart health, as well as that of their children and families to safeguard future generations.

"The fact is that good heart health starts from childhood. We have an opportunity to change the course of CVD and its global impact, by encouraging and supporting heart-healthy living from an early age. On World Heart Day, over 150 countries are joining together to encourage individuals, families, communities and governments to take action to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke amongst women and children," said Professor Sidney C. Smith Jr, MD, President, World Heart Federation.

The new multi-national survey conducted in Brazil, India, UK and the USA by the World Heart Federation and supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Frédérique Constant, reveals that:

  • On average, people believe 32.2 years is the age to take action about their heart health

  • By this age, the average heart will have beaten 1.3 billion times, about half of its life expectancy

  • Only one-quarter (26 per cent) of mothers believe young people under 20 years need to take action

  • Men aged 40 years and over are most likely to think it's OK to delay taking action, believing an average age of 37.3 years is the time to start caring for heart health

CVD risk factors such as physical inactivity, unhealthy eating, overweight/obesity and tobacco use can have lifelong consequences for men, women and children. During foetal development, maternal malnutrition, both under- and over- nutrition, can increase the chances of developing future risk factors associated with CVD. Children who have a birth weight of less than 2.5 kilograms have approximately double the risk of dying prematurely from coronary heart disease.1 For expectant mothers, CVD can present a double burden - protecting the heart health of their unborn child and protecting themselves against the risk of CVD, as heart disease is the world's number one killer, affecting 1 in 3 women worldwide.

Peter Stas, CEO, Frédérique Constant, said: "We are pleased to launch our partnership with the World Heart Federation on World Heart Day as it presents an important platform for women to take control of their own hearts in order to protect the heart health of not just themselves but the next generation as well. We are passionate and proud to help educate people about their risk and help avoid the millions of needless deaths that occur each year. By uniting our efforts we strive to give families more quality time together".

Johanna Ralston, Chief Executive Officer, World Heart Federation added "Women have an important role to play as the gatekeepers of the family and the guardians of health, especially in lower-and middle-income countries, where eight out of 10 CVD-related deaths occur. We are urging all women to adopt heart-healthy behaviours. Taking action to prevent exposure to risk factors will have a positive impact on children, as they learn by example and will be encouraged to adopt heart-healthy behaviours from a young age. These actions can have a big impact on reducing the number of preventable deaths from heart disease and stroke".

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Notes to Editors

About World Heart Day

World Heart Day was created by the World Heart Federation in 2000 to inform people around the globe that heart disease and stroke are the world's leading cause of death, claiming 17.3 million lives each year. On 29 September each year, together with its members, the World Heart Federation aims to drive action to educate people that by controlling risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity, at least 80% of premature deaths from heart disease and stroke could be avoided. World Heart Day unites people from all countries and backgrounds in the fight against the CVD burden, and inspires and drives international action to encourage heart-healthy living across the world. The focus for this year's World Heart Day is the prevention of CVD among women and children, which is a continuation of the 2011 theme; One World, One Home, One Heart. The main aim is to educate people that the threat of heart disease can begin even before birth, and that children's risk increases during childhood with their exposure to risk factors such as unhealthy diet or exposure to tobacco smoke. Unless action is taken to enable heart-healthy activity, the children of today are at increased CVD risk later in life. More information about World Heart Day is available at www.worldheartday.org; www.facebook.com/worldheartday and #worldheartday

Read the report: Urbanization and Cardiovascular Disease: Raising Heart-Healthy Children in Today's Cities.

World Heart Day is financially supported by unrestricted educational grants from: Bayer HealthCare, Boehringer Ingelheim, Medtronic, Pfizer, Roche.

About the World Heart Federation

The World Heart Federation is dedicated to leading the global fight against heart disease and stroke, with a focus on low- and middle-income countries, via a united community of more than 200 member organizations. With its members, the World Heart Federation works to build global commitment to addressing cardiovascular health at the policy level, generates and exchanges ideas, shares best practice, advances scientific knowledge and promotes knowledge transfer to tackle cardiovascular disease - the world's number one killer. It is a growing membership organization that brings together the strength of cardiac societies and heart foundations from more than 100 countries. Through our collective efforts we can help people all over the world to lead longer and better heart-healthy lives. For more information, please visit: www.worldheart.org; www.facebook.com/worldheartfederation and twitter.com/worldheartfed

About Frédérique Constant

Frédérique Constant is an independent family owned watch manufacturer based in Plan-les-Ouates, Geneva. The company is involved in all stages of watch production, from initial design to final assembly and quality control. They are supporting the World Heart Federation in its fight against cardiovascular disease (CVD) - which includes heart disease and stroke - the world's number one killer. The partnership is a joint commitment to raise global awareness of CVD and focuses on women and children as vulnerable populations. For more information: www.frederique-constant.com

References

1 World Nutrition. Journal of the World Public Health Nutrition Association. Volume 2, Number 4, 2011

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