Cardiovascular disease, or heart disease and stroke, remains the leading cause of death worldwide, claiming 18 million lives each year despite the availability of effective, inexpensive and safe prevention and treatment. High blood pressure alone is the world’s leading cause of death, killing 10 million people annually, more than all infectious diseases combined.
The Resolve to Save Lives Cardiovascular Health team aims to save 100 million lives from cardiovascular disease over the next 30 years by working closely with governments and partners on three proven strategies: reduce sodium consumption, eliminate artificial trans fat, and improve treatment of high blood pressure.
The availability of proven, inexpensive and safe prevention and treatment for cardiovascular disease (CVD) has led to dramatic decreases in CVD deaths in higher income countries, although there is much more progress to be made. Meanwhile, in lower income countries, CVD deaths have increased even more dramatically, and disproportionately affect younger people: Half of CVD deaths in poorer countries are among people under 70 vs. just one fifth of deaths in rich countries.
With $225 million dollars from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the CDC, is leading a team of global health experts at Resolve to Save Lives who work with governments in low- and middle-income countries to make strategic investments in strategies that can reverse the trend.
Worldwide this would save millions of lives and reduce medical costs by billions of dollars. Currently, less than 1% of the $35 billion spent each year on health assistance is for CVD prevention.
Resolve to Save Lives focuses on three key areas that will deliver rapid progress on preventing and treating heart disease: improved treatment of high blood pressure, elimination of artificial trans fat, and salt reduction.
– High blood pressure kills more people than all infectious diseases combined – nearly 10 million people every year. Treatment is low-cost, simple, and can be done by existing health programs, with funding leveraged from governments and other sources.
– Artificial trans fat, a toxic food additive that increases the risk of heart attack and death, can be replaced with healthier oils without affecting the taste or cost of food. Through regulatory action and enforcement, empowerment of consumers, collaboration with the food industry, and government guidance, we believe trans fat can be eliminated from the global food supply by 2023.
– High sodium intake raises blood pressure, and high blood pressure is the leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Reducing sodium in food will save lives and money and can be accomplished by empowering consumers, collaborating with the food industry, and providing guidance to governments.
Increasing global control of blood pressure from the current 14 percent to 50 percent, reducing global dietary sodium intake by 30 percent, and eliminating artificial trans fats from foods would prevent 100 million deaths from heart disease over the next 30 years. The global health care savings from effective management of blood pressure alone have been estimated at $100 billion per year.