Due to the launch of the “Pocket Guidelines for Assessment and Management of Cardiovascular Risk”, which is available in six languages, health workers around the world will be able to easily identify those at risk of heart attacks and strokes and save some of the estimated 20 million lives lost to these diseases annually by prescribing the most appropriate treatment. Primary health care workers will now have a new tool to assess and manage people at risk of heart attacks and strokes. The new pocket-sized incorporates management recommendations in such areas as smoking cessation, dietary changes, physical activity, weight control, alcohol consumption, anti-hypertensive drugs, lipid lowering drugs, anti-platelet drugs, anti-coagulant treatment and vascular surgery. It is said that cardiovascular diseases are increasing towards epidemic proportions in developing countries. Cardiovascular diseases already account for one-third of global deaths, and almost 10 per cent of the global burden of disease, and are likely to become the developing world’s leading cause of death in 2010. In 2005, 11.8 million people died of heart attacks and other heart diseases, and 5.7 million died of stroke. Around 80 per cent of these deaths were in low- and middle-income countries. By 2015, an estimated 20 million people will die from CVD annually, mainly from heart attacks and strokes. The WHO will be collaborating with national Health Ministries and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in setting up “training of trainers” workshops and distribution of the guide. Until now, individuals have often been assessed and treated based on a single risk factor such as high blood pressure, high blood lipids or diabetes. This approach can result in committing a patient who has only a small risk to many years of drug therapy or, conversely, neglecting to treat those with an overall higher risk.

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