Cardiovascular health

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death globally, taking an estimated 17.9 million lives each year (WHO). CVDs are a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels, including coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease (strokes) and rheumatic heart disease.

Awareness of cardiovascular risks and how to keep our hearts in good condition is essential to prevent these diseases and reduce the associated mortality rate.

Regular examinations

Heart health awareness begins with regular medical examinations which will help detect cardiovascular disease at an early stage or if you are at risk of CVDs. Common tests include blood pressure exams, blood tests, electrocardiograms, and heart ultrasounds. If you have not yet had such a check-up, consult your healthcare practitioner who will undertake the necessary checks and refer you to a cardiologist if needed.

Understanding the risk factors

The main risk factors for cardiovascular diseases are high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity. Physical inactivity, poor diet and excessive alcohol consumption are further direct contributors to deteriorated heart health and therefore development of CVDs. Again women have generally higher risk factors than men, with 80% of those over 45 showing at least two. While some risk factors (such as ageing or hereditary factors) cannot be changed, there are many risks on which one can act to stay in optimal health.

Knowing the symptoms

Symptoms of cardiovascular disease can vary depending on the type of disease, but some common symptoms include sudden chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, palpitations, and pain in the arms, legs, neck or the jaw. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical advice immediately.

Awareness campaign 2023

In September 2023, the CERN Medical Service held a three-day campaign dedicated to raise awareness about cardiovascular diseases and the lifestyle measures you can take to minimise the risks. The Hopitaux Universitaires de Geneve (HUG) held a conference about CVDs spanning different topics from women's heart health to AI and innovations in the cardiac domain. You can find all of these presentations on the dedicated Indico page. The webcast was recorded and the respective talks can be viewed from the timetable on the INDICO event page.

Another conference was held by the CERN psychologists and covered the correlation between stress and CVDs. The conference was webcast and recorded and the English session recording can be viewed here.

Slideshow from the campaign

Life-saving actions

The Safety Training centre offers a free half-day Life-Saving Actions training where you learn to become an actor in case of a medical emergency and to perform basic first aid actions. CERN's objective is that 40% of CERN employed members of personnel have participated in this training by the third long shutdwon (LS3).

cv poster