Jul 22, 2022

Everyone has been touched by cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), be it directly or through knowing someone who has had a heart attack, stroke, thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, or any other disorders of the heart and blood vessels.

I want to get people talking about cardiovascular disease (CVD), the leading cause of death and disability in the world!

Marie-France Tschudin, President, Innovative Medicines International & Chief Commercial Officer


More than 18 million people die of CVD every year. It is the leading cause of death globally.1,2 In fact, CVD claims more lives than all cancers combined, and a staggering 34 people will have died from a heart attack or stroke in the last 60 seconds alone.3 Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) accounts for approximately 85% of these deaths.1


ASCVD is an umbrella term used to describe a variety of diseases that are caused by the build-up of fatty deposits - or plaque - in arteries.4

Many people do not experience any symptoms until the plaque in the arteries unexpectedly ruptures. This may lead to a heart attack or stroke.4

3D Illustration of ASCVD




What’s shocking is that 80% of premature heart disease and strokes are preventable.5 Marie-France Tschudin, President, Innovative Medicines International & Chief Commercial Officer, wanted to explore why this is still the reality for so many people and how we can tackle one of the world’s biggest healthcare challenges.



From the Heart

In the ‘From the Heart’ video series, Marie-France speaks with ShantaQuilette Carter-Williams, a mother and campaigner living with cardiovascular disease (CVD), and experts Prof. Rifat Atun, Neil Johnson, and Prof. Kausik Ray to investigate how we can tackle the world's leading cause of death and disability together, and put cardiovascular disease at the top of the healthcare agenda.

Through her conversations, Marie-France uncovers the incredible opportunity we have to act now by reframing the conversation around cardiovascular disease and highlighting the urgent need to invest in cardiovascular health and healthcare systems, to prevent CVDs and improve outcomes for those impacted.

About From the Heart

From the Heart is a collection of life experiences told by those living with and those tackling the global reality of CVD. In this series of intimate conversations between Marie-France Tschudin and leading voices advocating CVD awareness and change, we get an honest look into global healthcare systems, personal anecdotes, patient journeys and an insight into the non-clinical barriers that prevent people from receiving care and treatment they need.’



ShantaQuilette Carter-Williams, patient and CVD advocate

Through the From the Heart series, we meet and learn about ShantaQuilette Carter-Williams patient and CVD advocate, who courageously shares her story. Over this four-part series we hear about her nine year journey to being accurately diagnosed and treated for CVD. Her story is an inspiration to us all to be proactive about our heart health. Afterall, as ShantaQuilette says, "You are the CEO of your life."


Tackling CVD inequalities in women

In episode 5, ShantaQuilette shares her long journey to diagnosis, while our experts explore gender differences in cardiovascular disease, including inequalities that need to be addressed in diagnosis and care for women and why awareness is key.

You are the CEO of your life

ShantaQuilette Carter-Williams, mother, patient and CVD advocate

Getting to the bottom of the CVD crisis

In episode 4, Marie-France discusses how we can get to the bottom of “one of humanity’s greatest healthcare challenges” with our CVD experts. They address issues such as complacency, incentivizing prevention and moving to a population health approach.

It makes me feel incredibly frustrated that patients still have to face this agony.

Marie-France Tschudin, President, Innovative Medicines International and Chief Commercial Officer, Novartis

Highlighting the burden of CVD

In episode 3, Neil Johnson talks about health preservation and the importance of applying health strategies for preventing CVD. He also highlights the need to reframe the discussion, waking people up to the significant burden CVD has on society.

Own it. Check it. Sort it.

Neil Johnson, Executive Director, Global Heart Hub

From intervention to prevention

In episode 2, Professor Ray talks about tackling CVD at scale, through a population health approach. He explores what can be done to support healthcare systems to ensure early diagnosis and prevent this silent killer before it’s too late.

Work with others. Think big. Think long-term.

Kausik Ray, Professor of Public Heath in the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at Imperial College London

Transforming healthcare systems

In episode 1, Professor Atun talks about why healthcare systems are struggling to address the CVD crisis and shares his thoughts on what can be done to transform them, making them sustainable for the future.

Act now. Act decisively. And act at scale.

Rifat Atun, Professor of Global Health Systems, Harvard

What can we do?

CVD is nothing short of a major global health crisis. It’s a challenge of unprecedented magnitude and one that no individual can tackle alone. We need to take a holistic approach and work collectively with the entire healthcare community, including other companies, academia and governments. When we approach the problem as a united front, working together to pool knowledge and expertise, we may finally begin to curb the impact of society’s greatest health challenge.


  1. World Health Organization. Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) 2022. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cardiovascular-diseases-(cvds) [Last accessed May 2022].
  2. Reference: Roth G et al. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2020 Dec 22;76(25):2982-3021.
  3. World Health Organization. World health statistics 2021: monitoring health for the SDGs, sustainable development goals. https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/342703/9789240027053-eng.pdf [Last accessed May 2022].
  4. NIH. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute - Atherosclerosis. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/atherosclerosis [Last accessed May 2022].
  5. World Health Organization (WHO). Cardiovascular diseases: Avoiding heart attacks and strokes. Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/questions-and-answers/item/cardiovascular-diseases-avoiding-heart-attacks-and-strokes. [Last accessed August 2022]
  6. World Health Organization. Cancer. 2022. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cancer. [Last accessed August 2022]. 

This page has been updated on Nov 7, 2022