This World Heart Day is unlike any other that has come before. Public health is front and center as countries around the world are facing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the physical, emotional, and economic toll it has taken. More than a million lives have been lost to COVID-19 this year worldwide. As a comparison, an estimated 17.8 million people died from cardiovascular disease in 2017.
This year, the Heart and Vascular Institute of Wisconsin (HVI) has the singular purpose of uniting the global health community to beat cardiovascular disease. Particularly in these times of a global pandemic, we are asking individuals, communities, and governments to “use heart” to make better choices for society, our loved ones, and ourselves, while also calling for urgent protection of frontline healthcare providers.
The “Use Heart” call to action is about using our knowledge, influence, and compassion to beat cardiovascular disease – the world’s #1 cause of death – and help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our local communities.
COVID-19 Has Created the Perfect Storm for Heart Disease
For patients who have or are at-risk for heart disease, COVID-19 has created the perfect storm for preventing adequate care, and there are a several key factors contributing to this:
First, people with heart disease are among those with the highest risk of death and of developing severe long-term complications from COVID-19. Even for people without previous heart conditions, research is showing that the heart might be adversely affected by the virus, potentially resulting in long-term damage.
Second, fear of the virus has already led to a sharp decline in hospital visits by at-risk heart patients for routine and emergency care.
Lastly, as we see COVID-19 case numbers rise in the Fox Valley area, frontline healthcare workers are at an increased risk for contracting the virus, particularly those with children in locally affected schools.
Cardiologist Carrie Chapman, MD, HVI Physician Leader, said: “In these trying times, it is paramount that we pay special attention to those who are at greater risk of complications from COVID-19, as well as better understand how the virus is affecting the hearts of otherwise healthy people. COVID-19 has created a perfect storm, in which those people with cardiovascular disease fare poorly, and those at risk don’t seek the treatment that they need to keep their hearts healthy. The heart and the entire vascular system are in danger and we need to act now. The world has not experienced a global event on this scale in decades – today we have a unique opportunity to unite, to mobilize our skills and to use our heart to act.”
Global Study on Cardiovascular Disease and COVID-19
In order to better understand the relationship between cardiovascular disease and COVID-19, the World Heart Federation (WHF) has embarked on a global study which aims to better describe cardiovascular outcomes and identify cardiovascular risk factors associated with severe complications and death in hospitalized patients with COVID-19. This study is already underway in Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Ghana, India, Iran, Japan, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Portugal, South Africa and Sudan. It is expected to publish preliminary data in late 2020, with a complete analysis in 2021. Hospitals around the world are currently preparing to start patient recruitment for the study and many additional countries will join the study in the coming months.
“World’s Most Urgent Heart-to-Heart” – Panel Series on Behavioral and Societal Change
On World Heart Day, WHF will launch the “World’s Most Urgent Heart-to-Heart”, a series of debates focused on how to unlock behavioral and societal change to beat cardiovascular disease. For many people, preventing cardiovascular disease comes down to behavior change. Yet, there is nothing harder than changing personal and societal behavior, thereby realizing lasting change. Comprised of experts from a number of disciplines, the debates will seek to uncover insights into the triggers and barriers to behavior change and how that manifests itself across societies. The first of this series of panel discussions will be livestreamed on September 29, 2020, with others to follow over the coming year.
To join the first livestreamed discussion to be held as part of the HVI’s “World’s Most Urgent Heart-to-Heart” panel series on Tuesday, September 29 at 3:00PM CET, please register here: https://crm.world-heart-federation.org/civicrm/event/register?reset=1&id=7 or view the discussion live on Twitter @worldheartfed or by clicking here https://twitter.com/worldheartfed.
Getting Involved in World Heart Day
In light of restrictions on social gatherings due to COVID-19, this year the HVI will be moving most of its activities for World Heart Day online. To learn more and get involved, please visit http://worldheartday.org.
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About World Heart Day
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. For more information, visit http://worldheartday.org.
About the World Heart Federation
The World Heart Federation (WHF) is an umbrella organization representing the global cardiovascular community, uniting patient, medical, and scientific groups. HVI influences policies and shares knowledge to promote cardiovascular health for everyone. HVI connects the cardiovascular community, translates science into policy and promotes the exchange of information and knowledge to achieve heart health for everyone. For more information, visit https://www.world-heart-federation.org.
About COVID-19 Study & Enrolment
The WHF COVID-19 and Cardiovascular disease (CVD) study was launched earlier this year to better understand the intersection between COVID-19 and CVD. WHF invited its Members to identify and endorse hospitals or other medical facilities (recruiting centres) treating COVID-19 patients in their respective countries. It is a global prospective cohort study and each participating centre is recruiting between 50 and 200 consecutive COVID-19 patients. There is no limit in the number of sites that can take part. For further information contact Lana Raspail at [email protected].