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Keywords:

  • cardiovascular disease;
  • global health;
  • health policy;
  • noncommunicable diseases;
  • public health.

Abstract

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, affecting not only high-income but also low- and middle-income countries. Nearly 80 percent of all estimated cardiovascular disease–related deaths worldwide now occur in low- and middle-income countries, where nearly 30 percent of all deaths are attributable to cardiovascular disease. The health burden of cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases is also accompanied by a significant deleterious economic impact at the level of both national economies and households. The global trends in the health and economic burden of cardiovascular disease provide a compelling argument in support of prioritizing urgent yet carefully planned efforts to prevent and control cardiovascular disease worldwide—and especially in low- and middle-income countries. After decades of escalating efforts to draw attention to the high burden of cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases, this critically important issue is now emerging as a more central part of the global health and development agenda. The breadth of behavioral, biological, social, environmental, and systems-level factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease necessitates multisectoral approaches across the lifecourse that promote healthful lifestyles, reduce risk, and reduce cardiovascular-disease morbidity and mortality through the delivery of quality health care services. Given that the complex interactions among the determinants of cardiovascular disease vary in different contexts, real progress in control efforts will come through approaches that are driven by a country's disease burden and risk profile, capacities, resources, and priorities—approaches that are led by a country's key decision-makers and stakeholders, including governments, civil society, the private sector, and communities. Many countries are already establishing efforts to address chronic diseases. In addition to these locally driven efforts, success will require active engagement and sustained action from a wide array of stakeholders operating at global and regional levels. Mt Sinai J Med 79:632–640, 2012. © 2012 Mount Sinai School of Medicine