Heart disease is still the number one killer in every region of the world and its prevalence is increasing. Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease is the second leading cause of death in Australia with COVID-19 ranked third.

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The leading cause of death in every region of the world is heart disease and it’s a health challenge that’s getting worse.


Former President of the World Heart Federation Professor Fausto Pinto says the statistics are not only alarming but also frustrating because heart disease can be prevented.

“In 2021, there were 20.1 million people that died of cardiovascular disease at the global level. 2019 were 18.6. So unfortunately, the prevalence of disease and the global mortality is actually increasing. And why is this happening? Well, and it’s even a little bit more disturbing because we know what can cause cardiovascular disease. 80% of cardiovascular disease is potentially preventable. We have what we call the risk factors that are well known, like smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, meaning high fat in the blood and diabetes. There are many conditions that we know can affect the cardiovascular system and be responsible for cardiovascular disease.”

Historically, it was smoking and other public health challenges that caused heart disease, but now other risk factors have increased such as diabetes and obesity.

Professor of Cardiology at the University of London Riyaz Patel.

“It’s a challenge that you can find junk food pretty much as we as we colloquially call it, in every part of the world but finding fresh, healthy, cooked food is actually much more difficult. And that, again, links into the concerns about how food availability is the biggest problem that countries face.”

Professor Patel says public health policies are needed to encourage healthier lifestyles.

“Even in developing countries, you can have someone on a scooter come and deliver it to you. You don’t even need to work those calories to go and get that food. So, these are real concerns that need to be addressed, but it has to be done in an economically viable way that allows our economies to continue to function but doesn’t penalise the companies that are trying to do good, but perhaps putting restrictions on those activities that although they may make money and generate tax revenues, are actually ultimately harmful for the population.”

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