Brussels, 16 June 2021: Today, 12 key EU and international health organisations signed a joint statement to call on the EU to develop a comprehensive EU Plan on cardiovascular disease (CVD) , which is the first cause of death in Europe , affecting millions of people.
Alarmingly, after a decline in mortality over the past several decades, the numbers are rising again : CVD accounts for 36% of all deaths and around 20% of all premature deaths (before 65) in the EU . CVD is linked to huge health inequalities, be it between geographies or be it by gender. Impacting people of all ages, CVD is set to substantially increase as Europe’s population is ageing.
Cardiovascular disease is not always preventable. Many conditions can be inherited, some may be caused or worsened by other chronic conditions or their treatments, and others may be incurred or exacerbated due to ageing.
The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the scenario, causing damage to the European citizens’ heart and vascular systems. Many of those patients most impacted by the pandemic have had underlying cardiovascular disease. At the same time, COVID-19 has impacted diagnosis and treatment through reductions in doctor visits and heart checks. There is a clear opportunity to improve the health of European citizens by addressing the underlying burden of cardiovascular disease, with preventive action where possible and with appropriate treatment and intervention where this is not possible.
Therefore, the signatory organisations jointly call on EU decision-makers to develop a comprehensive EU Plan on CVD to ensure that European citizens live longer, healthier lives – regardless of their gender, or where they were born or live in the EU – and enable them contributing to society and the economy. Thus, ensure more Health Equity across the EU.
Through an EU wide CVD Plan ambitious incentives and measures should be implemented across prevention, screening, early detection, access to treatment and rehabilitation to keep people in good health and optimise their quality of life. This will strengthen the resilience at the population level, whilst making efficient use of healthcare resources.
IT IS TIME TO ACT. The undersigned organisations stand ready to collaborate with EU institutions and national governments to develop and implement such a plan to address the burden of cardiovascular disease. We have a unique window of opportunity to invest into better cardiovascular care for citizens across the EU. We now need the political commitment to make it happen through an EU policy plan on cardiovascular health.
- Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a group of disorders, all related to the heart and circulatory (vascular) system. Cardiovascular disease takes many forms which include ischemic heart disease (also known as coronary heart disease), different types of strokes, peripheral artery disease, heart rhythm disturbances (e.g., atrial fibrillation), heart failure, congenital heart diseases, inherited (genetic) conditions, valvular heart disease and vascular dementia.
- Cardiovascular disease facts and figures, MEP Heart Group, https://mepheartgroup.eu/facts-figures/
- British Heart Foundation. Heart and circulatory disease deaths in under 75's see first sustained rise in 50 years. Available from: https://www.bhf.org.uk/what-we-do/news-from-the-bhf/news-archive/2019/may/heart-and-circulatory-disease-deaths-in-under-75s-see-first-sustained-rise-in-50-years [Last accessed: September 2020].; Shah NS, Lloyd-Jones DM, O’Flaherty M, et al. Trends in Cardiometabolic Mortality in the United States, 1999-2017. Research letter. JAMA. 2019;322(8):780–782.
- ESC-EHN Blueprint Digital Edition June 2020