Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, at 17.3 million deaths a year worldwide (malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis combined kill just under 3.9 million women a year). It’s the cause of 1 in 3 deaths. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) kills more than 2,150 Americans each day, or one death every 40 seconds, according to the American Heart Association. There are 600,000 non-smokers globally, including children, killed each year by exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke. And 1 million babies worldwide are born each year with a heart defect.

These are staggering statistics headed into Sunday’s World Heart Day (September 29), a day of awareness and celebration that this year focuses on cardiovascular health across the lifespan. At the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing (JHUSON), it’s an opportunity to reflect on accomplishments and renew energies to slow the pace and reduce the scope of heart disease.

“The ‘whole life’ approach of World Health Day 2013 mirrors so much of what we’re doing at Hopkins Nursing, in schools, in clinics, in hospitals, and in research,” says Patricia M. Davidson, PhD, MEd, RN, a global leader in cardiac health for women and indigenous peoples and dean-designate at JHUSON. “There is so much fascinating work being done and real progress being made in CVD. These are scary numbers, but they just push us to do more.”

To mark World Heart Day 2012, the World Heart Federation commissioned a multi-national survey to assess perceptions of the general public about the age they believed people should start to take action to prevent conditions such as heart disease and stroke.  The survey found that half of people believe they should wait until age 30 or later, while the risk can begin early in life.

Through posters, video displays, web pages, and more, JHUSON joins the World Heart Day effort on September 29 that includes a Twitter hashtag (#worldheartday) to spread the word of heart wellness and debunk the myth that CVD affects mostly older, male, affluent populations. Meanwhile, everyday efforts at JHUSON will not miss a beat.

A sampling of JHUSON’s efforts on heart disease:

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For media inquiries, contact Steve St. Angelo at 410-614-5317, sstange2@jhu.edu