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World Heart Day

Two hands forming shape of a heartMake the "Heart" Choice: Take Action on September 29

Mark your calendar: September 29, 2014, is the 15th annual observance of World Heart Day.

Each year, the World Heart Federation sponsors World Heart Day to raise awareness that cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease and stroke, is the world's leading cause of death. The theme this year, "Heart Choices, Not Hard Choices," emphasizes that everyone should have access to a heart-healthy environment where they live, learn, work, and play.

In 2011, heart disease and stroke were the first and fourth leading causes of death in the United States.1 Cardiovascular disease does not affect all groups of people in the same way; for example, black men are almost twice as likely as white women to die of cardiovascular disease. Many people think heart disease occurs mostly in older people, but numerous deaths from this condition happen well before people reach the age of 75. Although many people associate cardiovascular disease only with men, it is the leading killer of US women.

Finger pointing to date on calendar

Mark your calendar: September 29, 2014, is the 15th annual observance of World Heart Day.

The good news, many early deaths caused by heart disease and stroke are preventable through making lifestyle changes. By being physically active, eating a healthy diet, not smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy weight, and managing other risk factors (such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes) you can reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Creating a Heart Healthy Environment

Creating a heart healthy environment where you live, learn, work, and play is one way you can reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. What is a heart-healthy environment?

  • Neighborhoods with public spaces that promote physical activity, such as trails for walking, running, bicycling, and places for playing outdoor games.
  • Schools and child care facilities that provide quality physical education and have nutritious meals available.
  • Workplaces and community spaces that are smoke-free and have healthy food options.
Family going for brisk walk

Get active by taking a brisk 10-minute walk, 3 times a day, 5 days a week.

If your community does not offer these opportunities, consider working with your neighbors to learn more about the health benefits and promote healthy changes in your environment. You can make a difference in the heart health of your coworkers as well. Ask your employer to provide a smoke-free environment and healthy food choices in vending machines and cafeterias. Million HeartsĀ®, a national initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017, provides an action guide [203 KB] for employers to get started.
There are also steps you can do for yourself:

  • Visit your health care team. Get a checkup at least once each year. Your doctor, nurse, or other health care professional can check for conditions that are risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
  • Eat a healthy diet that is low in sodium, saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol and high in fresh fruits and vegetables. For more information, visit CDC's Nutrition website.
  • Get active by taking a brisk 10-minute walk, 3 times a day, 5 days a week. Do more if you can. Remember to incorporate exercise into your day in different ways, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or raking the yard instead of using the leaf blower. Exercising with friends and family can be a great way to stay healthy and have fun. Learn more at CDC's Physical Activity website.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. What weight is right for you? One way to determine if you are at a healthy weight is to calculate your body mass index (BMI), which is based on your height and weight. For most people, BMI is a reliable indicator of body fat levels. Learn more at CDC's Healthy Weight website.
  • Don't smoke. If you do smoke, quit as soon as possible. Ask your health care team for help in making a plan to quit or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669; TTY 800-332-8615). Learn more about quitting at CDC's Smoking and Tobacco Use website.
  • Moderate alcohol intake. If you choose to drink alcoholic beverages, don't have more than one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men. Learn more at CDC's Alcohol and Public Health website.
  • Join Million HeartsĀ®!

Heart Health Is Everybody's Concern

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that much of heart disease is preventable. So this World Heart Day, work with your community and your employer to protect your heart and the hearts of those you love.


  1. Hoyert DL, Xu J. Deaths: Preliminary data for 2011. Natl Vital Stat Rep. 2014;61(6).