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Why we need action
Substantial progress in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease (CVD) has resulted in the dramatic decline in premature death from CVD over the last 50 years. This has led to a false optimism that CVD need no longer be a public health priority. A dangerous complacency has set in.
And yet, CVD remains Europe’s – and the world’s - leading cause of death, thus the need to make a call for bold and urgent action, as outlined in this blueprint.
In the European Union (EU), the burden of CVD remains greater than that of any other disease. Cardiovascular events – mainly myocardial infarction (heart attack) and stroke – remain, by far, the leading cause of death in the EU and are responsible for a very significant proportion of premature deaths. Millions of people are living with CVD (or its consequences) and inequalities in the management of CVD are huge across Europe.
Any notion that “the job is done” is clearly amiss. The cost to the economy is unnecessary. The cost to human life is tragic and preventable.
The development of innovative solutions to ensure access to prevention and treatment of CVD across Europe is a necessary and urgent priority. Supporting research in CVD by creating a European-wide infrastructure to enable quality of care assessment, harmonised high-quality disease registries, and streamlined pragmatic randomised clinical trials will not only improve the health of people living in Europe, but stimulate the pharmaceutical and device industry to invest in Europe.
The ESC and the European Heart Network (EHN) have put forward a Blueprint for EU action to tackle CVD, which recommends a range of actions spanning research and innovation, regulation, prevention and healthcare.
We ask EU policymakers to act upon our HEART call to action without hesitation.
Read the Blueprint Consult the infographics Read our press release
Members of the ESC Patient Forum underline the need for immediate and urgent action. Their lives depend on it.
"I have worked as a heart failure specialist nurse for more than 15 years, so you can imagine my shock when, at the age of 52 and seemingly very fit and well with no apparent risk factors, I had a heart attack out of the blue. When this happened, I knew that something serious was wrong and summoned the paramedics who unfortunately did not take my symptoms seriously and suggested I was anxious. It turned out that I was having a heart attack caused by Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection, a heart condition that mostly affects women. What can the EU do to help advance the knowledge around CVD in women?" Julie Harris, UK
“I have had heart disease all my life, I was born with it! Congenital heart disease is one of the most common types of birth defect but survival into adulthood does not mean we’re cured. Patients like me challenge doctors, as not enough is known about the impact of congenital heart disease as we grow older. How can the new Horizon Europe programme support research, education and policy changes to help improve understanding and management of congenital heart disease in adults?” Noémi de Stoutz, Switzerland
“Having survived breast cancer, heart failure nearly cost me my life at the age of 36. The diagnosis was delayed, as the impact of chemotherapy on my heart wasn't discussed or considered by my oncology team. What can the EU Beating Cancer Plan do to address research on CVD as a cancer co-morbidity or complication?” Kreena Dhiman, UK
“People think heart disease only affects the elderly or those who are overweight. I was only 13 years old when everything suddenly went black, and I was diagnosed with heart failure. It was a shock. I was 16 when I had a heart transplant. A transplant is the only possible cure for heart failure. Due to the limited availability of organs many patients cannot benefit from this second chance at life. What can the EU do to support more research to develop treatments for heart failure?” Luka Vugrač, Croatia
“Every minute counts if you have a heart attack. I was lucky because I received immediate treatment at the hospital. During the COVID-19 outbreak, many sufferers of a heart attack or stroke were less lucky , as they were too scared to go to hospital or because the ambulance service was overwhelmed. Unfortunately, COVID will have a CVD memory. How can the EU help address this?” Gábor Vermes, Hungary
With the deadly link between COVID-19 and cardiovascular disease being established, there is no time to waste if we do not want to see CVD mortality and morbidity skyrocket.
"Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in EU and the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of well-functioning health systems and the need for us to take action. The new stand-alone EU4Health program is a game changer, putting health as priority for the EU and rising to the challenges posed by the pandemic. It will address the needs of those living with cardiovascular and other non-communicable diseases." Stella Kyriakides, European Health Commissioner
“The COVID-19 crisis has shown that the availability of accurate and rapidly accessible patient data can inform health policies in an emergency and avoid preventable death and disability. This must be achieved across Europe through the development of harmonised continuous patient registries and the digitisation of our health systems”. Barbara Casadei, ESC President
European Heart Network
MEP Heart Group
Our mission: To reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease.
© 2020 European Society of Cardiology. All rights reserved.