You are a potential target for the world’s greatest killer. It may come at you anytime, but you can reduce your risk of a potentially fatal encounter.

Heart disease and related cardiovascular disorders (CVDs) kill more people worldwide than any other single ailment or threat. These ailments cause 31 percent of all global deaths — currently more than 17 million a year, and more than 23 million by 2030.

But here’s the key: The choices you make in daily life have a huge influence on your chance of getting heart disease, useful knowledge to share on World Heart Day September 29.

Don’t smoke

The United States is one of many countries requiring health warnings on tobacco-product packaging. (© AP Images)

Eat healthy foods

Fruits and vegetables are important to a heart-friendly diet. (Aleksandar Mijatovic/Shutterstock)

Exercise regularly

Thirty minutes of exercise, five days a week, can maintain cardiovascular health. (© AP Images)

Know your blood pressure

People can stay aware of their heart disease risk with regular blood-pressure checks. (© AP Images)

Drink in moderation

Excessive alcohol use contributes to cardiovascular disease. (Alex Saberi/Shutterstock)

Even as you take steps to lower your own risk of heart disease, experts are working to better understand CVDs and how to treat them.

One of these research centers is the George Institute for International Health in Beijing, capital of a country where 2.6 million lives are lost to CVDs each year. This research group, with medical science partners in the United States, is especially focused on high blood pressure and its contribution to heart disease. The George Institute is working on ways to develop blood-pressure control programs in local communities and empower those communities to sustain a public health effort over the long term.

The George Institute is also one of 11 Centers of Excellence located around the world that are backed by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and UnitedHealth Group, a U.S.-based health-care company.

In a partnership with the Chinese Society of Cardiology, the American Heart Association is also working to ensure quality cardiac care at more than 200 hospitals.

The American Heart Association works in more than 100 countries, employing thousands of instructors to offer lifesaving education programs about first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.