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Promotion of Cardiovascular Health and Cancer Prevention Essay

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The NAS Global Health Report 2017 Recommendations and Actions for Nurses and Other Health Professionals identifies a range of initiatives to be implemented by health professionals to address global health issues. One of the matters of utmost importance is the promotion of cardiovascular health and cancer prevention. With non-communicable diseases being one of the primary causes of death all over the world in recent decades, their control and prevention have become the main target of many international and local healthcare organizations. The purpose of this presentation is to review recommendations of the NAS Global Report 2017 for cancer and cardiovascular diseases prevention, analyze the current international healthcare policies, and define the reasons for their implementation.

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Cancer and Cardiovascular Diseases (CVDs)

The global epidemic of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is one of the major global health challenges of the 21st century. As of 2015, NCDs kill around 40 million people each year, accounting for 70% of all deaths globally. CVDs are the number one cause of death that takes around 17.9 million lives annually, while cancer accounts for 8.8 million deaths per year (Kitsis et al., 2018).

According to the study by Kitsis et al. (2018), cancer and CVDs share the same risk factors and biological mechanisms: unhealthy diet, tobacco smoking, lack of physical activity, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and excessive alcohol consumption. The reduction of risk factors, together with a range of early detection and treatment measures, provide major improvements in cancer and CVDs control and prevention.

Promotion of Cardiovascular Health and Cancer Prevention

The NAS Global Health Report 2017 Recommendations and Actions for Nurses and Other Health Professionals identifies the promotion of cardiovascular health and cancer prevention as one of the primary concerns for health professionals worldwide. The recommendation is as follows: “Advocate for USAID, the State Department, and CDC to promote seed funding through their country offices to mobilize and involve the private sector in addressing cardiovascular disease and cancer at the country level” (cited in Ferguson, 2018, p. 97).

The proposed strategy includes targeting and managing risk factors, adopting policies to regulate tobacco control and healthy diets, detecting and treating hypertension early, detecting and treating early cervical cancer, and immunization for vaccine-preventable cancers (cited in Ferguson, 2018).

Identified Vulnerable Populations: Low- and Middle-Income Countries

While cancer and CVDs pose a threat to all people around the globe, the low- and middle-income countries and the vulnerable groups of population in developed countries are affected the most. Due to sanitation improvements and the successes in the prevention of infectious diseases, the burden of disease in third-world countries is gradually shifting from communicable to non-communicable diseases. As of 2017, three-quarters of deaths from non-communicable diseases occur in low- and middle-income countries. More deaths are caused by cancer than by HIV and AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. The main reason for this tendency is the poor access to proper healthcare, which results in people being diagnosed with advanced and late-stage diseases that might have been treated earlier. While the population of high-income countries benefits from quality healthcare facilities and well-trained providers, people in third-world countries often lack adequate healthcare infrastructure (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine et al., 2017).

Identified Vulnerable Populations: High-Income Countries

In high-income countries, the vulnerable groups of the population include older, economically and socially disadvantaged, and less educated individuals. Senior citizens are more likely to get some forms of cancer. Socially and economically challenged people, as well as the residents of rural communities, generally have poorer access to early detection tests and the receipt of timely and high-quality treatment. Lower education levels are associated with higher risk factors for cancer death, such as smoking, the likelihood of undergoing cancer screening tests, and access to healthcare. Health outcomes are also affected by such factors as economic stability, health literacy, and health insurance (Vulnerable populations, n. d.).

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Current Healthcare Policies: World Health Organization

The World Health Organization identifies cancer prevention as the most cost-effective strategy for cancer control. It aims to “implement national policies and programs to raise awareness, reduce exposure to cancer risk factors, and ensure that people are provided with the information and support they need to adopt healthy lifestyles” (Cancer prevention, n. d., para. 1). The identified risk factors include tobacco use, physical inactivity, dietary factors, and obesity, alcohol use, infections, environmental pollution, occupational carcinogens, and radiation (Cancer prevention, n. d.). In 2020, a range of measures was proposed for cancer prevention, which includes: [list of measures].

The WHO supports its member states by developing global strategies to reduce mortality and prevent CVDs. These strategies involve the following initiatives: developing standards of care, reducing risk patterns, enhancing health care capacity, monitoring disease patterns, and developing cost-effective healthcare innovations for managing the disease (Cardiovascular diseases, n. d.).

Current Healthcare Policies: American Heart Association

The American Heart Association focuses on CVDs and stroke prevention at workplaces. An estimated 25% to 30% of companies’ medical costs per year are spent on employees with the major risk factors for CVD and stroke. They include smoking, obesity, hypertension, physical inactivity, and diabetes. Employees share the financial burden through higher contributions to insurance and reduction of healthcare coverage. The American Heart Association develops and implements workplace wellness programs that include: [list of measures] (American Heart Association, 2019).

Current Healthcare Practices: American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society aims to eliminate preventable cancers through high-impact cancer prevention initiatives, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. As of 2020, their primary global initiatives are tobacco taxation and human papillomavirus vaccination. In their initiatives, the American Cancer Society particularly focuses on adolescents, who are often overlooked when addressing cancer issues. It also aims to raise public awareness of early cancer detection and provide guidance to local healthcare organizations in research, education, and communications (Global cancer prevention, n. d.).

Why Is Cancer and CVDs Prevention Important

For this presentation, CVDs and cancer prevention was selected as the global recommendation of primary importance because these diseases affect a large number of people worldwide but can be diagnosed and treated.

According to the WHO, between 30% and 50% of cancer cases are preventable (Cancer prevention, n. d.).
According to the report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine et al. (2017), the countries most affected by the rise of NCDs tend to have lower national productivity and higher health and welfare expenditures.
“The costs resulting from productivity losses associated with disability, unplanned absences from work, and increased rates of accidents are as much as four times the cost of treatment (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine et al., 2017).
If no action is taken, cancer and CVDs rates are expected to grow in the next 20 years due to rising urbanization and globalization (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine et al., 2017).
Reasons for Implementation

Cancer and CVDs control and prevention initiatives should be given the utmost attention not only because they present a global threat, but also because of the amount of research and knowledge that already exists. The current level of international science and healthcare provides multiple opportunities for interventions worldwide. With the NPDs epidemic being a major health burden for many countries, financial reasons should also be taken into consideration. According to the report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine et al. (2017), investing in cancer care and control could result in between $100 and $200 billion in global economic savings.

NCDs Prevention and Sustainable Development

NCD Alliance identifies NCDs prevention and control as an essential measure of ensuring the three pillars of economic growth, social equity, and environmental protection with the ultimate goal of achieving sustainable development. Addressing NCDs is critical for economic growth and poverty reduction, as the epidemic of cancer and CVDs affects workers’ productivity and diverts resources from business purposes to healthcare. It is also a prerequisite to addressing social and economic inequity and accelerating sustainable development (NCDs & sustainable human development, n. d.).

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Promotion of cardiovascular health and cancer prevention is an essential part of the global healthcare strategy. It is identified as a matter of primary importance by the World Health Organization and many international and local healthcare institutions. Their strategies primarily focus on reducing risk factors, vaccination, screening and diagnosing, increasing public awareness, and improving the general level of healthcare. Low- and middle-income countries are affected the most by the epidemic and require the most attention from both global and national health service providers and research institutions. In the high-income countries, cancer and CVD prevention measures mainly include workplace wellness programs, providing access to early diagnosis opportunities, and raising public awareness of cancer and CVDs threats.


American Heart Association. (2019). Annual report 2018–2019. Web.

Cancer prevention. (n. d.). World Health Organization. Web.

Cardiovascular diseases. (n. d.). World Health Organization. Web.

Ferguson, S. (2018). Global health: A vision for action. In D. Nickitas et al., Policy and politics for nurses and other health professionals (pp. 89–105). Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Global cancer prevention. (n. d.). American Cancer Society. Web.

Kitsis, R., Riquelme, J., & Lavandero, S. (2018). Heart disease and cancer: Are the two killers colluding? Circulation, 138, pp. 692–695. Web.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Board of Global Health; Committee on Global Health and the Future of the United States. (2017). Global health and the future role of the United States. National Academies Press.

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NCDs & sustainable human development. (n. d.). NCD Alliance. Web.

Vulnerable populations. (n. d.). SelfMadeHealth. Web.

WHO outlines steps to save 7 million lives from cancer. (2020). World Health Organization. Web.

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