Fighting cardiovascular disease – a blueprint for EU action

The burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is greater than that of any other disease and the leading cause of death in Europe and in the world.

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To address this burden, the European Heart Network and the European Society of Cardiology have developed a Blueprint for EU action.

CVD infographics heart

To view the detailed recommendations for action, click here. The recommendations tackle prevention, patient care and treatment as well as research needs.

Understanding the burden of Cardiovascular Disease

living with CVD (EU)

Most recent data from the Global Burden of Disease database estimate that, in the EU, more than 60 million people live with CVD, and that close to 13 million new cases of CVD occur every year.

More patients survive heart attack or stroke, and the pattern of CVD has changed – in particular, nowadays many patients with CVD are co-morbid (that is, have co-existing renal failure, cognitive decline, diabetes or other conditions). This combination has significant adverse effects on patients and puts substantial strain on health care systems across the EU.

biggest killer (EU)

CVD is the number one cause of death in the EU: more than 1.8 million people – equal to the population of Vienna – die every year as a result of CVD, accounting for 36% of all deaths — far more than any other condition (as a comparison, cancer accounts for 26% of all deaths in the EU). This represents, on average, about 5 000 deaths per day in the EU.

below 65 years old (EU)

A large proportion of CVD deaths is premature. In the EU, 24% of deaths among men before age 65, and 17% of deaths among women before age 65, are due to CVD.

The rate of decline in CVD mortality appears to be tapering. Indeed, for the first time in 50 years some EU countries have reported an increase in premature CVD death. These adverse trends have been attributed to an insufficient awareness of CVD, limited and geographically varied investment in cardiovascular prevention and treatment, and the rising prevalence of obesity (and with that of diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidaemia and atherosclerosis).

costs of CVD (EU)

The burden of CVD is not only a health issue, but an enormous economic challenge to health care systems in the EU that is expected to grow in future years.

The most recent data estimate that CVD costs the EU economy approximately €210 billion a year. Of that cost, around 53% (€111 billion) is for health care costs, 26% (€54 billion) is due to productivity losses and 21% (€45 billion) due to informal care of people with CVD.

disparities in mortality (EU)

Inequalities in mortality from CVD account for almost half of the excess mortality in lower socio-economic groups in most European countries.

The single most important contributor to excess mortality in Eastern European countries is CVD. While among men less than 50% of the excess mortality is due to CVD, in women this percentage is 80%.