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I just about missed that today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Of course it seems like everyday is World-this or National-that day. But cardiovascular health has a special significance to me.

My son, sister, mother and stepfather have each had heart health concerns at one time or another. More recently a long-time friend and a work colleague have developed cardiovascular health issues. So I’m glad I didn’t miss out on World Heart Day. I imagine most people whose lives have been touched by heart health issues feel the same way.

After two years of focusing on heart health in the workplace, this year The World Heart Federation is reaching out to individuals. This year’s focus is on reducing your own and your family’s risk of heart disease and stroke. The message is to take charge of your home’s heart health by taking steps such as choosing healthy food options, increasing physical activity, and saying no to tobacco.

As always, the campaign emphasis will be on improving heart health across all nations.

Here’s more information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Heart Federation on what you and your family can do to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke:

One Home

The World Heart Federation has identified four actions you and your family can take:

Ban smoking from your home

  • Stop smoking tobacco in the home to improve your own and your children’s heart health.
  • Implement a new rule in your home: for every cigarette someone smokes, an extra household chore is waiting!

Stock your home with healthy food options

  • Start the day with a piece of fruit or prepare your own lunch at home to ensure healthy options are taken to work or school.
  • Make sure every evening meal contains at least two to three servings of vegetables per person.

Be active

  • Families should limit the amount of time spent in front of the TV to less than two hours per day.
  • Organize outdoor activities for the family, such as cycling or hiking trips, or simply playing in the garden.
  • When possible, instead of using the car, take your bicycle or walk from home to your destination.

Know your numbers

  • Visit a healthcare professional who can measure your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels, together with waist-to-hip ratio and body mass index (BMI).
  • Once you know your overall CVD risk, you can develop a specific plan of action to improve your heart health. Make this action plan clearly visible in your home as a reminder!

By taking action on the household steps above, you and your family can reduce the burden of CVD wherever you are in the world. However, not all heart events are preventable. It is therefore important to know what action to take should a heart attack or ischemic stroke, occur in the home. If you suspect a family member of having a heart attack or stroke, seek medical help immediately.

Over 70% of all cardiac and breathing emergencies occur in the home when a family member is present and available to help a victim.

Learn More

Take Responsibility for Your Own Heart Health

This year marks the 11-year anniversary of celebrating World Heart Day. In 2000, the World Heart Federation, a non-governmental organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, created the annual World Heart Day campaign to increase public awareness about the threat of heart disease and stroke.

The theme of the 2011 World Heart Day is "One World, One Home, One Heart." There are simple ways to foster and promote healthy lifestyles in general and in families.

Here are things that an individual can do to live a healthy lifestyle:

Engaging in healthy behaviors helps to control certain risk factors such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and prevent heart disease and stroke.


Activities organized by members and partners of the World Heart Federation include workplace campaigns, public talks, concerts, and sporting events. The national member organizations in the United States are the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association.

CDC funds heart disease and stroke prevention programs in 41 states and the District of Columbia. Read additional information about these programs.

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