Global Coalition on Aging Calls on Policy-Makers to Address Cardiovascular Disease to Promote Healthy Aging

(New York – 1 April 2019) – Today, the Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA), in collaboration with Bayer, released a new report titled Healthy Heart for Healthy Aging: The Need for Awareness, Innovation, and Collaboration in Cardiovascular Health, which examines the cardiovascular health imperative aligned with population aging.

The report highlights the current momentum from the global health community that makes now the opportune time to advance a healthy aging agenda for cardiovascular diseases. The report calls for specific policy actions that will advance ongoing innovation and engage a wide range of stakeholders.

“As the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases rise with the aging of the population – already 1 billion of us over 60 globally and growing to 2 billion by mid-century – now is the time for action,” said Michael W. Hodin, PhD, CEO of GCOA. “We’ve seen incredible innovations in cardiovascular health over the past 50 years, yet CVDs remain the number one cause of death globally.  Unfortunately, this trend will continue with increasing longevity unless policy-makers and public health leaders commit to alleviating the impacts on patients, health systems, economies and society.”

With over 17 million deaths worldwide, CVDs are the largest noncommunicable disease (NCD) by morbidity and mortality. From 1990 to 2016, the number of global, annual CVD deaths increased by more than 40% – from around 12 million to over 17 million – increasing CVDs’ share of total mortality from 27% to 32% of all deaths. CVDs impose an immense burden on individuals and health systems, due to the costs of the diseases and their comorbidities. Yet too often, these diseases are misunderstood as a natural condition of becoming old when in fact proactive attention to prevention, treatments, and care can change the incidence and prevalence of these conditions regardless of age.

“Over the past decades, innovative treatments have contributed to an increase of the average life span. As we continue to see rapidly aging populations around the world, effectively tackling and managing age-related illnesses have become pivotal,” said Dr. Michael Devoy, Chief Medical Officer of Bayer AG. “We have to focus on addressing these unmet needs, by embracing the opportunities around scientific progress and innovation in order to establish a sustainable framework for the future.”

The report calls for action in three areas:

  • Awareness: Meaningful policy action on CVDs must promote awareness and education amongst the public, patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals to empower healthy choices that reduce risk for CVDs and related health challenges.
  • Innovation: Policy-makers must recognize that innovation moves primarily through incremental advances, so we must accept a research paradigm aligned with this stepwise progression.
  • Collaboration: Effectively addressing the direct and indirect impacts of CVDs will require policies and platforms that engage a wide range of actors, including government agencies, health systems, the private sector, non-profits, multilateral organizations, and advocacy groups.

In recent years, leading global, multilateral, and national institutions and health policy decision-makers – including the WHO, OECD, G20, governments, and others – have recognized the need to address the growing health and economic challenges related to population aging. Landmark public policy initiatives, like WHO’s Decade of Healthy Ageing and the G20 Principles on Silver Economy and Active Aging, have generated global momentum for successful aging. Now, policy-makers must continue this momentum to establish frameworks, programs, and collaborations that realize a sustainable course for healthy and active aging, and CVDs require urgent attention.

“The rise in cardiovascular disease should serve as a major call to action for policy-makers, the health sector, patient advocates, and the public,” said Dr. Holly S. Andersen, MD, Director of Education and Outreach, Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute. “Innovations in healthcare, medicine, and technology have brought us longer lives, but the next era of innovation is needed as a driver of longer – and healthier – lives.”

To read the full report, click here.

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