Global Hearts Initiative

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the number one cause of death globally, resulting in an estimated 31% of all global deaths in 2016. With millions of people remaining unaware of their risk for CVDs, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and WHO’s Global HEARTS Initiative aims to improve CVD prevention and treatment by setting standardized practical intervention and prevention strategies for sustainable CVD management in areas with limited socioeconomic strength. As part of the Global HEARTS Initiative, RTI International is assessing CVD treatment practices in developing countries.

CVDs affect men and women equally, however; women are often under-diagnosed and under-treated for potential symptoms. Additionally, women are more likely to experience a heart attack and other health complications at a younger age following a stroke than men. Over 75% of all heart disease and stroke related deaths occur in middle- and low- income countries due to limited access to regular primary health care programs for prevention and treatment.

CVDs may lead to increased levels of poverty due to high out of pocket health care expenses and the economic burdens that premature death can bring onto families.

Increasing Primary Health Care Interventions

The Global HEARTS Initiative provides health care providers with a technical package that includes six modules and an implementation guide to set simplified protocols for treatment, prevention, and referrals, while monitoring and improving the productivity of clinics in LMICs.

Modules include

  • Healthy-lifestyle counseling

  • Evidence-based treatment protocols

  • Access to essential medicines and technology

  • Risk based management

  • Team care and task-sharing

  • Systems for monitoring.

Providing Evidence for CVD Reduction

The CDC collaborated with RTI International to assess available evidence for hypertension diagnosis, management, and treatment in 14 pilot countries that include Barbados, Benin, Columbia, Ethiopia, India, Iran, Jordan, Nepal, Nigeria, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, and Uganda. RTI created an annotated bibliography on available evidence for hypertension diagnosis and treatment and developed a catalog of core and optional questions for monitoring hypertension prevalence and treatment based on existing surveys in the United States, globally, and in specific country contexts.

RTI’s Global HEARTS Initiative works as a first step for adopting a broader framework for CVD prevention and control by ensuring that clinics are equipped with the necessary structure to provide care to communities. The program will expand practices to provide a high-quality framework for short-, immediate-, and long-term healthcare solutions. Educating patients to take heart-protective actions increases their ability and willingness to seek medical help, especially for the women who’s risk for CVDs are often underestimated.