More people die annually from cardiovascular disease than from any other cause. As populations age, urbanization spreads, and the control of infectious and childhood diseases improves, cardiovascular disease prominence rises alongside things like high-fat diets, smoking, and sedentary lifestyles. The global policymaking community and national health systems alike have taken notice of the existing major burden of cardiovascular disease and its projected growth and have embarked on dual-pronged prevention and treatment agendas to avert cardiovascular disease deaths and improve health and wellbeing for all. These increases, moreover, are expected to continue as global society ages even more dramatically – the global population over 60 is predicted to double by mid-century, reaching 2 billion, and for the first time in human history the will be more old than young in societies across the globe.
Existing efforts to combat cardiovascular diseases are realizing success—fewer and fewer people are dying prematurely as a result of heart attacks.3 In some European countries, heart attack deaths have been more than halved over the past 30 years.4 Despite advances in the prevention and management of many chronic conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, and cancer, the medical community has been less successful in reducing mortality or hospitalizations attributed to heart failure. Perversely, falling mortality rates attributed to heart attack actually results in an increased number of long-term survivors of coronary heart disease that are likely to go on to develop heart failure.
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