By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

Cardiovascular disease researchers and others from around the world met in South Africa this week to brainstorm how to help patients get access to medications that can help stave off the world’s No. 1 killer.

The investigators are members of the World Heart Federation’s Emerging Leaders program, a training initiative started in 2014 to foster collaboration among international cardiovascular disease researchers and to develop new strategies to reduce heart disease. This year’s program participants include Jose Maria E. Ferrer, M.D., director of international health for the American Heart Association.

At the meeting in Cape Town, 25 people representing 20 countries and numerous areas of expertise shared information about health care policies and research from their home countries in order to come up with ways to help people get access to medications to control high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, some of the top risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

Members of the World Heart Federation’s Emerging Leaders program met in South Africa this week. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sliwa, M.D., Ph.D.)

Members of the World Heart Federation’s Emerging Leaders program met in South Africa this week. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sliwa, M.D., Ph.D.)

Over the next year, the investigators will participate in webinars and are expected to conduct research about access to medications to prevent and treat heart disease.

A recent report from the AHA and the World Heart Federation showed that by 2025 more than 5 million men and 2.8 million women worldwide will die prematurely each year from cardiovascular disease if countries don’t take major steps to prevent them.