Tuesday 29 September 2020, 07:55

Raising awareness on World Heart Day

  • 29 September is World Heart Day

  • This year’s slogan: #UseHeart

  • Since 2003: Diverse FIFA initiatives to prevent and raise awareness of sudden cardiac arrest in footballers

Every year, 29 September is dedicated to the human heart.

Twenty years ago, World Heart Day was established by the World Heart Federation (WHF), an association of cardiological societies and heart foundations from more than 100 countries, in cooperation with the World Health Organisation (WHO). On this day, the focus is on heart health, and campaigns are organised to raise awareness of what individual people can do to prevent risks of cardiovascular disease and strokes.

A large number of events and campaigns are intended to make people aware that almost 80 per cent of deaths from heart attacks and strokes could be prevented with a heart-healthy lifestyle.

In 2020, the slogan 'Use Heart' will focus on what individuals can do to prevent the risks of cardiovascular disease and strokes.

This includes...

...the head

  • In order to understand how to lead a heart-healthy lifestyle and to act on this knowledge accordingly, it would be sensible to make some behavioural changes where necessary so that a better quality of life, both now and in the future, can be achieved.


  • As an individual, be a role model for loved ones.

  • As a healthcare professional, help your patients make positive changes towards heart health.

  • As an employer, invest in the heart health of your employees.

  • As a government, implement measures and initiatives that lead to better public heart health, such as taxes on sugar, smoking bans and reduction of air pollution.


  • Looking beyond oneself and acting in a way that supports the most vulnerable in society; people with underlying heart diseases who may be at higher risk during the COVID-19 period.

FIFA Medical

According to the WHF, over 17 million people worldwide die each year from cardiovascular diseases. Sudden cardiac death is particularly alarming and every year, in Germany alone, it affects around 65,000 apparently healthy young and old people. In takes the form of a rapid and unexpected cardiac arrest, which is preceded by severe cardiac arrhythmia, a so-called ‘ventricular fibrillation’.

Many of these deaths could be prevented if help could be quickly provided at the scene. According to the WHF, about 80 per cent of these deaths could be avoided through leading a healthy lifestyle.

Following the tragic death of Cameroonian footballer Marc-Vivien Foe, who collapsed on the pitch without any outside influence during the FIFA Confederations Cup 2003 and died shortly afterwards, FIFA launched various initiatives to prevent and raise awareness of sudden cardiac arrest among footballers. In 2006, it introduced the pre-competition medical examination (PCMA) to detect cardiovascular abnormalities at an early stage

FIFA also offers medical seminars at FIFA tournaments, among others, to provide training on sudden cardiac arrest for referees, sports scientists, players and FIFA employees. In 2016, FIFA launched the FIFA Diploma in Football Medicine. This free online course allows professionals to exchange ideas, learn, research and engage in prevention. Sudden cardiac arrest and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) each have their own dedicated module.

In 2018, FIFA began a campaign to raise awareness of sudden cardiac arrest by using posters, presentations and seminars. Through football, FIFA is raising awareness of this important issue and helping to save lives on and off the pitch.

Ten tips for a heart-healthy life:

  • Eat a healthy diet

  • Maintain a healthy weight

  • Make doing exercise and sport a matter close to your heart

  • Make movement and exercise a part of your everyday life

  • Say no to cigarettes and other tobacco products

  • Insist on having a smoke-free environment

  • Have your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar checked

  • Take advantage of a free medical health check every two years from the age of 35 onwards

  • Limit your alcohol consumption

  • Cultivate stress-free experiences

Good to know

  • Fast action saves lives. The survival rate could be doubled or tripled if more people were trained and able to act.

  • Over the last ten years, an average of one footballer every month has died of sudden cardiac arrest.

  • If a player with sudden cardiac arrest is treated with defibrillation within 120 seconds, his chances of survival can increase by up to 100 per cent.

Useful links