Corporate Responsibility

Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death globally: Sandoz recognizes World Heart Day 2013

September 27, 2013 - Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a global burden accounting for 17.3 million deaths a year - significantly more than all deaths related to malaria, HIV and tuberculosis. By 2030, the World Health Organization estimates more than 23 million people annually will die of CVD. In this article, Sandoz highlights the burden CVD places on patients, particularly those in low- and middle-income families. 

CVD: Not only for the wealthy

CVD is not only for affluent males in developed countries. Heart disease causes 1 in 3 female deaths each year, and over 80% of CVD deaths take place in low- and middle-income families, according to the WHO. People in low- and middle-income countries are more exposed to risk factors, such as smoking, which can lead to CVD. People in low- and middle-income countries who suffer from CVD have less access to effective and equitable health care services which respond to their needs (including early detection services). As a result, many people in low- and middle-income countries die younger from CVD, often in their most productive years.

The high cost of poor heart health

At the household level, sufficient evidence is emerging to prove that CVD and other noncommunicable diseases contribute to poverty, due to catastrophic health spending and high out of pocket expenditure. At the macro-economic level, CVD places a heavy burden on the economies of low- and middle-income countries. Noncommunicable diseases including CVD and diabetes are estimated to reduce GDP by up to 6.77% in low- and middle-income countries experiencing rapid economic growth, as many people die prematurely (1).

Global focus on hypertension

On April 7th, 2013, the WHO chose hypertension as its theme for World Health Day. Also known as high or raised blood pressure, hypertension increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure. Uncontrolled hypertension can also cause blindness, irregularities of the heartbeat and heart failure.

Staying heart healthy

According to the WHO, smoking, an unhealthy diet, and physical inactivity increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Engaging in physical activity for at least 30 minutes every day of the week will help to prevent heart attacks and strokes. Eating at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day, and limiting your salt intake to less than one teaspoon a day, also helps to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

High blood pressure is preventable and treatable. Early detection is crucial. All adults should know their blood pressure. See your doctor to learn your blood pressure numbers and what they mean for your heart health.

How Sandoz contributes 

Due to the prevalence of CDV globally, affordable medicines are a top concern for governments and health authorities. Sandoz has a broad portfolio of generic cardiovascular medications which prevent cardiovascular diseases by lowering lipid levels and reducing high blood pressure. Generic medicines provide health authorities, governments, and patients with affordable, quality alternatives to the originator, or “brand” medicines. Affordable generics are especially needed in countries where patients have to pay out-of-pocket for medicines.

“Firstly, Sandoz promotes a healthy lifestyle,” said Maja Jenko Osel, M.D., Head of Biomedicine at Lek, a Sandoz company. “That means less salt and fat in the diet, and more exercise. If a healthy lifestyle is not enough to maintain a person’s health, medications can help control blood pressure and manage appropriate lipid levels, reducing the risk of heart attack or other cardiovascular incident.”

“There are still many unmet needs in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases. For example, we know that hyperlipidemia is also present in adolescents and children, but, in general, current medications are not approved for use among this particular patient group,” said Jenko Osel. “Therefore, Sandoz is currently investing in this therapeutic area to be able to deliver these important cardiovascular medications to the global market.”

To learn more

Read the WHO’s Global brief on hypertension, featuring information on how governments, health workers, civil society, the private sector, families and individuals can join forces to reduce hypertension and its impact.

World Heart Federation:

World Health Organization:

The facts and figures cited in this article are taken from the above resources.


(1) Global status report on noncommunicable diseases 2010. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2011.


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