Call for European action to combat heart disease
29 April 2008
A Call for Action  encouraging European countries to develop
national strategies to combat heart disease has been issued by the Joint
European Societies on Cardiovascular Disease Prevention .
In Europe 4.3 million people die of cardiovascular disease (CVD)
annually, even though it is a preventable condition, and the economic
cost is calculated to be 192 billion Euros per year . Cardiovascular
disease is now also affecting younger generations due to unhealthy
lifestyles and causes 30 to 40% of all premature deaths.
Experts say local strategies should target four areas: education,
health insurance, primary care and hospitals. Schools are encouraged to
promote a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, physical
exercise and avoidance of tobacco.
Prof Ian Graham, Chairperson of the ESC Fourth Joint Task Force on
Cardiovascular Disease Prevention said: "It is better to be healthy than
ill. Despite abundant evidence that many cardiovascular diseases (heart
attacks and strokes) are preventable through simple lifestyle measures,
many countries only reimburse treatment and not prevention.
"Since treatment alone is expensive and cannot deal fully with
Europe's biggest killer, CVD and since prevention works, it is important
that governments allocate an adequate budget to sustained health
education and preventive care within national health services. Primary
care physicians, nurses and hospitals are key players in an integrated
preventive health strategy.
"Lifestyle measures are not costly and also confer major added value
in terms of less obesity, diabetes, lung diseases and cancer as well as
The Joint European Societies on Cardiovascular Disease Prevention is
an alliance of organisations concerned with heart health. Prof Guy De
Backer of the European Society of Cardiology, Chairperson of this group,
explains: “A multidisciplinary approach is extremely important.
Cardiologists cannot tackle heart disease alone. CVD is usually the
product of multiple interacting risk factors so we need to work with
experts from other bodies, in particular in the fields of behavioural
medicine and diabetes. Much practical preventive advice is delivered by
family doctors, nurses and voluntary bodies such as Heart Foundations.
All these partners are represented in our joint committee.”
These partners contributed to updating the Joint European Guidelines on CVD Prevention in Clinical Practice
. These Guidelines are an
important consensus document summarizing all available evidence in CVD
with the aim to assist physicians in selection the best management
strategies for patients at risk.
“The ESC is now working with its partners so that national strategies
are implemented across Europe. The implementation should be driven by
multidisciplinary local alliances,” explains Lars Rydén, former
President of the ESC and a member of the Swedish Society of Cardiology
who also contributed to the Guidelines. “This Call for Action will
certainly be adopted in Sweden. Establishing alliances, incorporating
representatives from all domains involved in creating a heart healthy
surrounding and harmonizing all efforts towards this purpose is of the
utmost importance. The implementation of the Prevention Guidelines is
essential as well. Without a coordinated approach the goals will be
difficult to reach. Together, these actions are really something we
should be able to attain.”
“Time has come to join efforts and to take concerted action to
improve cardiovascular health in Europe through a network of National
Coordinators for CVD Prevention. The European Association for
Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation (EACPR) is actively
involved in the implementation of the ESC Prevention Guidelines and
eager to pilot this process throughout Europe, particularly targeting
high risk regions” says Hugo Saner, EACPR President.
Evaluation of efforts to implement National CVD Prevention Policies
will be monitored by the Joint European Societies on Cardiovascular
Disease Prevention at regular intervals. A European Forum on CVD
Prevention organised during the ESC Congress taking place in August 2008
in Munich, will provide the first statistics on implementation
activities following the Joint European Societies’ Call for Action.
1. The Call for Action (download as PDF file)
Information on the Joint European Societies on Cardiovascular Disease
3. European Cardiovascular Disease Statistics
4. Joint European Guidelines on CVD Prevention in Clinical Practice
(requires registration to view)