World Heart Day – History and Significance

With the world becoming more aware of lifestyle diseases, there has been a significant change in the perception of your heart’s health. From healthcare professionals to food industry leaders, the focus and direction towards heart disease have turned towards preventive care.


When and Why Is World Heart Day Celebrated?

September 29 – World Heart Day – was set up by the World Heart Federation (WHF) as an international campaign to spread awareness about cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and their prevention. Heart disease, along with strokes, is responsible for over half of all non-communicable diseases in the world today. This makes CVD the number one killer. World Heart Day is aimed at bringing attention to cardiovascular disease and the range of associated health issues.


History of World Heart Day

Word Heart Day was established by the World Heart Federation in conjunction with the World Health Organisation (WHO) by the chairman of the WHF in 1999. It was celebrated for the first time in 2000. Initially, World Heart Day fell on the last Sunday of September, but it was later changed to the 29th of September.

How Is International Heart Day Celebrated Around the World?

While International Heart Day is not a public holiday, thanks to the efforts of the WHO and WHF, several events and activities are planned across the world with the objective of increasing the awareness of heart illness and its prevention. Governments and NGOs in different countries arrange activities that include runs, talks, concerts, plays, and sporting events. The WHF also organises awareness events in over 100 countries. These include:

  • Health checkups
  • Fitness events
  • Sports events
  • Public talks
  • Concerts
  • Stage shows
  • Exhibitions

how is international heart day celebrated

World Heart Day Themes of Past Decade

The WHF initiated National Heart Day in over 100 countries with the aim of reducing the number of premature deaths due to heart illness by 25% by 2025. With this aim, they have organised World Heart Day with specific themes for each year. The theme for each year in the past decade has been:

  • How Young Is Your Heart? – 2006
  • Team up for Healthy Hearts – 2007
  • Know Your Risk – 2008
  • I Work With Heart – 2009
  • I Work With Heart – 2010
  • One World, One Heart, and One Home – 2011
  • One World, One Heart, and One Home – 2012
  • Take the Road to a Healthy Heart – 2013
  • Heart Choices NOT Hard Choices – 2014
  • Creating Heart-healthy Environments – 2015
  • Light Your Heart, Empower Your Life – 2016
  • Share the Power – 2017
  • My Heart, Your Heart – 2018

World Heart Day Quotes

More people are becoming aware of heart health, not least due to the involvement of celebrities and health care organisations. Here are a few quotes attributed to World Heart Day and heart health.

  1. “We’re in a situation now where weight and extreme weight and heart disease is the biggest killer in this country today.” – Jamie Oliver
  1. “With all of the holiday cheer in the air, it’s easy to overlook the ingredients in the foods. Ingredients such as salt, sugar, and fat – all of which leads to diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, strokes, heart disease, and cancer.” – Lee Haney
  1. “I’m giving life lessons and tips on how to take care of your emotional heart, because heart disease is the number-one killer in America.” – Leeza Gibbons
  1. “I saw many people who had advanced heart disease and I was so frustrated because I knew if they just knew how to do the right thing, simple lifestyle and diet steps, that the entire trajectory of their life and health would have been different.” – Mehmet Oz
  1. “Seeds and nuts are indispensable for cardiovascular health. The protective properties of nuts against coronary heart disease were first recognised in the early 1990s, and a strong body of literature has followed, confirming these original findings.” – Joel Fuhrman

world heart day

  1. “The most important thing in illness is never to lose heart.” – Nikolai Lenin
  1. “Think about it: heart disease and diabetes, which account for more deaths in the U.S. and worldwide than everything else combined, are completely preventable by making comprehensive lifestyle changes. Without drugs or surgery.” – Dean Ornish
  1. “The medical literature tells us that the most effective ways to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and many more problems are through healthy diet and exercise. Our bodies have evolved to move, yet we now use the energy in oil instead of muscles to do our work.” – David Suzuki
  1. “I got into being vegan because I was simply looking to benefit from being more compassionate. I have since come to learn that it is an animal-based diet that is responsible for the overwhelming majority of cases of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, multiple sclerosis, and all kinds of other problems.” – Steve-O
  1. “Millions of Americans today are taking dietary supplements, practising yoga and integrating other natural therapies into their lives. These are all preventive measures that will keep them out of the doctor’s office and drive down the costs of treating serious problems like heart disease and diabetes.” – Andrew Weil

As with most lifestyle diseases, heart disease is also hugely preventable. Small and simple changes to your lifestyle will result in exponential benefits to your heart. Even if we have a genetic disposition towards heart disease, the onset of the disease can be thwarted with good lifestyle changes. A healthy diet with low salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats combined with regular exercise will go a long way towards combating cardiovascular diseases.

The efforts of the World Heart Federation and the WHO have seen an increased awareness in the general population. People are now more aware of the risks of packaged food, unhealthy diets, and a lack of exercise. However, there is still much to be done in terms of reaching people who do not have the luxury or time of making home cooked meals every day. Food corporations who make packaged food or run fast food chains also have to be brought under international regulations in order to ensure that the public receives the right nutrition.