Cardiovascular diseases remain the leading cause of death worldwide. Cardiovascular disorders represent the foremost cause of premature deaths globally. Overall the absolute burden of cardiovascular disease has increased globally and has shifted heavily towards low and middle income countries such as India and Zambia, mainly due to population growth and aging.

Cardiac ailments caused more deaths in India in 2016 (28%) than any other non-communicable diseases according to a study published in September 2018 issue of “The Lancet.” Cardiac disease has doubled as per the study. About 54.5 million people were affected by the disease in 2016 compared to 25.7 million in 1990. It is estimated that one in four deaths are due to cardiovascular disease. This epidemiologic transition is largely due to an increase in risk factors like diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol levels.

Coronary artery disease and strokes are responsible for 80% of the burden. Rheumatic valvular disease caused by acute rheumatic fever now bears a lower disease burden in India but still contributes to 38% of its global disease burden, according to the study.

Heart disease is now declared as a “major public health” problem leading to premature deaths and diseases across the states of India and in countries of Africa. Health care inequities are quite prevalent in these countries with a considerable gap in access to cardiovascular health care and this is continuing to widen. Preventative measures are awfully inadequate and cardiac deaths continue to rise.

SEVA Heart Foundation was launched with the goal of providing heart valves, medical supplies, health education, and preventative care for those in need.


Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) has been eradicated in western countries but remains a major heart problem in developing countries. RHD results from a streptococcal infection of the throat. Structural similarity between the bacterial cell wall and heart valve tissue results in damage to the valves from the body’s own immune system. RHD is related to overcrowding, inadequate hygiene, poor access to health care and low health awareness.

Rheumatic heart disease causes significant disability especially in the young. Recent estimates suggest that disability related to RHD remains the leading cause of heart failure in children and young adults accounting for at least 250,000 deaths annually.

Valve surgery or interventional procedures are often required to alleviate symptoms and improve their survivals. These procedures are very expensive and out of reach for majority of the patients and not readily available in the developing world. These surgeries are scarce in resource poor settings. Hence, prevention and early diagnosis are valuable. Effective prevention is possible through early detection, public education, and antibiotic prophylaxis using penicillin.