Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one cause of death in Europe as well as in the European Union (EU), where it is responsible for 3.9 and 1.8 million deaths respectively every year. CVD mortality is falling in most European countries. However, declining death rates do not go hand in hand with declining morbidity. The number of CVD patients remains at a very high level; in the EU alone, almost 49 million people live with cardiovascular disease.
Within CVD, heart failure is a condition, which is common but neither widely known nor simple. The main causes of heart failure are coronary heart disease and high blood pressure.
Heart failure brings about dramatic changes in people’s lives. Normal activities such as taking the stairs, engaging in domestic chores such as cleaning, walking to the shops, or even putting on clothes become more and more difficult, the worse the condition becomes. Patients become increasingly isolated, unable to pursue hobbies or maintain social contacts. Additionally, for people of working age, these symptoms and disabilities can also affect ability to maintain employment, as well as productivity. As far as quality of life is concerned, a primary care-based cohort study with ten-year follow up in Scotland from 2017 came to the conclusion that people with heart failure have a lower quality of life than people with most forms of cancer.
In developed countries, the prevalence is 1-2% of the population; this means that more than 10 million people in the EU could be affected. The prevalence of heart failure is set to increase, due to an ageing population and occurrence of co-morbidity factors. In most westernised economies, heart failure is responsible for about 2% of all healthcare expenditure. A study from 2014 estimated the costs related to heart failure in the EU to be around €29 billion in one year.
Early diagnosis is key as is early initiation of appropriate treatment to relieve symptoms, prevent additional organ damage and improve prognosis.
For more information on what our members are doing on heart failure, please take a look at our Members page for their website links.