Joining forces to tackle cardiovascular disease in Europe
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is responsible for over 10,000 lives lost every day across Europe1. Treatment advances and improvements in preventative strategies have led to a reduction in the number of deaths from CVD. However, cases continue to rise across Europe and CVD is still the leading cause of death.2 Recently, a European Alliance for Cardiovascular Health with guidance from the European Parliament has called for further action on improving CV health.3
On 17th of November 2022, the European Alliance for Cardiovascular Health (EACH), consisting of 17 health organisations, held a first ever event in the European (EU) parliament to discuss the development of a new EU plan aimed at improving cardiovascular (CV) health.3,4 The event brought together Members of the European Parliament, the European Heart Network, the World Health Organization (WHO) Europe, the Spanish Ministry of Health, and cardiovascular health policy experts.4
The EACH identified prevention as the most cost-effective way of reducing CVD’s impact across the continent.3 From an individual perspective, preventing CVD can be as simple as following a healthy diet and participating in regular exercise. Studies have shown that individuals who follow a diet that consists of whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, and fish/poultry, and remove processed meats and refined carbohydrates, can reduce their risk of coronary heart disease by up to 23%.5
At a European level, implementation of effective prevention measures will require co-operation from stakeholders such as the European Parliament to increase pressure on the European Commission, as well as Member States.3
The EACH has called upon the European Commission and Member States to support a new EU CV plan to demonstrate the importance of including CV health across all EU policies, with the aim of reducing the burden of CVD across the continent and ultimately improving outcomes, as summarised below:3
- Making CV health a priority for the upcoming parliamentary term, ensuring it is prioritised at a European level and throughout multidisciplinary care pathways
- Development of a comprehensive EU Cardiovascular Health Plan by 2024 to establish proposals, timelines, and funding to ensure that successful action is taken on CV health
- A key focus on prevention of CVD, but also tackling early detection of disease, improved access to treatments, rehabilitation for patients, and improvement in quality of life for those who are affected by the disease
Throughout the EACH meeting, the need to shift focus on prevention, raising awareness around CVD risk factors and determinants, and promoting healthy lifestyles, was evident. These focus areas are supported by the results of our European Survey of Cardiovascular Disease. Whilst 66% and 70.5% of our survey respondents identified high cholesterol and high blood pressure as risk factors for CVD, respectively, less than 50% were aware of their cholesterol levels and blood pressure.6 Furthermore, only ~50% identified poor diet, being physically inactive, and having a high alcohol consumption as key risk factors for CVD, highlighting the need for greater education on CVD prevention at a European level.6
With CVD cases on the rise, we believe that it is our responsibility to look at CVD care beyond the medicines we provide.2 We understand the value of prevention, and its role in our mission to improve patient outcomes. We support the EACH’s cause and echo their call-to-action for CVD prevention to be prioritised across EU policy.
To learn more about the key takeaways from the European Alliance for Cardiovascular Health event, click here.