Neglect and lack of public investment in cardiovascular health threaten to reverse the progress made in reducing mortality from cardiovascular disease. Today, cardiovascular disease is not only the leading cause of death in the EU but also reflects significant inequalities across the Union. The impact of cardiovascular disease can be felt everywhere, from the environment and employment to climate change and demographic shifts. It is crucial that policy addresses this issue by investing in research, infrastructure, and other necessary areas.
Read a letter from the ESC President, requesting that Cardiovascular Health be included as part of the EPP manifesto for the 2024 European Parliament elections.
Launching the European Alliance for Cardiovascular Health
On 27 September 2021, the ESC, together with fourteen other European organisations, launched the European Alliance for Cardiovascular Health (EACH) to raise awareness of the burden of cardiovascular disease and call on EU policymakers to develop a comprehensive EU Cardiovascular Disease Plan to address the increasing burden of cardiovascular disease and ensure that citizens - regardless of where they are born or live in the EU - can live longer, healthier lives and are able to continue contributing to society and the economy.
This Alliance builds on a first joint statement published by the partners involved on 16 June 2021.
Fighting cardiovascular disease - a blueprint for EU action
On 25 June 2020, ESC and European Heart Network (EHN) met with the EU Commissioner for Health, Stella Kyriakides and members of European Parliament, to launch a joint publication "Fighting cardiovascular disease - a Blueprint for EU action". The Blueprint calls for bold and urgent EU action to address the overwhelming burden of cardiovascular disease, which has increased dramatically in the wake of the COVID -19 pandemic.
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.
Patients call for EU action
Members of the ESC Patient Forum underline the need for immediate and urgent action. Their lives depend on it.
“I always considered myself to be extremely fit and healthy; I still don’t understand why I suffered a heart attack at the age of 62. What can the EU do to support research that will improve diagnosis of those who are potentially at high risk of developing CVD?” Paul McGreavy, UK
"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