29 September 2018, World Heart Day
Nearly one in five deaths from CVD and stroke are caused by air pollution... a total of 3 million deaths globally every year
Today on World Heart Day, WSO is standing with our partners in circulatory disease prevention, the World Heart Federation (WHF) to raise awareness of the strong link between the air we breathe, cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Outdoor and household air pollution are an increasingly important risk factor for CVD: according to recent research, air pollution is the cause of 19% of all CVD deaths, accounting for more than 3 million deaths each year. Recent stroke data shows an even stronger overall association between air pollution and stroke, with over 29% of the burden of stroke attributed to air pollution.
An estimated 7 million people die prematurely every year from air pollution: 1.4 million of these will be from stroke and over 2 million from heart disease.
According to the WHO, 91% of the world’s population live in areas where air pollution exceeds the WHO guidelines limits. While the problem is clearly geographically widespread, the impact varies depending on where you live and your level of income.
In south Asia and eastern and central sub-Saharan Africa, air pollution is the third highest contributor to stroke, accounting for almost 40% of the stroke burden. In China and India, almost 22% of stroke burden (as measured by DALYs) in 2013 were attributed to ambient PM2.5 air pollution. Although household air pollution from solid fuels did not contribute to stroke burden in high-income countries, almost a fifth of stroke burden in low-income and middle-income countries was attributed to household air pollution in 2013 (especially in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa).
Professor David Wood, WHF President, comments: “Reducing exposure to air pollution has become a crucial challenge that the world needs to face if we are to continue advancing in our goal to reduce the impact of non-communicable diseases, especially cardiovascular disease - the world's biggest killer. On World Heart Day, we are raising awareness of poor outdoor and household air quality as an increasingly important risk factor, and bringing together all those involved in cardiovascular health from every country in the world in the fight to reduce CVD."
President of the World Stroke Organization, Prof Werner Hacke added, 'Stroke is associated with a several heart conditions and an estimated 80% of premature deaths from both stroke and CVD could be prevented. This is why we are committed to collaborating with WHF and our partners the Global Coalition for Circulatory Health to deliver a robust prevention agenda. This includes not only increasing public awareness of the links between CVD and stroke, but also working with governments to put in place population-based policies and investments that will scale up improvements in the health of our communities.’
The case of air pollution shows us that reducing stroke and CVD can't be achieved through individual lifestyle change alone. While there are things that we can all do as individuals to reduce our stroke risk, turning the tide on the global tsunami of CVD, stroke and other non-communicable diseases will happen much faster if action is taken at government and individual level.’
On World Heart Day, WHF is calling on each and every one of us to make a commitment to heart health. WSO's hand on heart promise is to continue to strengthen our partnership work so that together we can address shared risk factors for CVD and stroke and help people live longer and healthier lives.’