After World War II, chronic diseases, cardiovascular diseases in particular, became a major public health problem in industrialized countries. These diseases were perceived as diseases of affluence. Finland was hit hard: in the 1960s, Finland had the world’s highest rate of deaths from coronary heart disease. Middle-aged men were dying in great numbers. The rates were even higher in the east of the country – the highest figures being in the Province of North Karelia. In 1971, representatives of the Province of North Karelia signed a petition to national authorities appealing for urgent help to reduce the burden of cardiovascular diseases in the area. In response to the petition and in an attempt to prevent the rising tide of chronic disease, Finnish authorities, with expert support and the help of the World Health Organization, launched the North Karelia Project. Pekka Puska reports.
Finland, North Karelia, chronic disease, non-communicable diseases, cardiovascular diseases, Fin-D2D, World Heart Federation