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Understanding the burden of CVD

To improve understanding of the burden of CVD, the ESC collects cardiovascular data from across its 57 members countries through its 'Atlas of Cardiology'. The ESC Atlas of Cardiology provides figures illustrating the current impact of cardiovascular disease on our population and data on risk factors and their geographic distribution.

Oxford-ESC Burden of Disease 

The societal impact of cardiovascular disease is huge, constituting the leading cause of global mortality. Apart from its devastating human toll, it bears a substantial financial cost. The Oxford-ESC Burden of Cardiovascular Disease is an important project, revealing the economic burden in the member countries of the ESC. 

The project has been running since 2020 and provides a clear insight into both healthcare costs and the social cost of CVD, using the latest data available. It's goal is to provide solid evidence to all stakeholders involved in healthcare policy and implementation, including industry, policy-makers, healthcare managers, clinicians and patients. These insights will be critical in driving the need to create sustained EU and national level CV health plans to secure funding investment and CV health policies that will save lives and ultimately reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease. 

Results from the Burden of Disease study will be presented as part of the Late Breaking Science Programme at ESC Congress 2023, and two abstracts based on the Burden of Disease findings will also be presented. 

The Burden of Cardiovascular Disease project has been developed in collaboration with Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford and the ESC, uniting two academic bodies in health economics and cardiology. 

CVD - facts and figures

In the past 50 years, the development and implementation of better treatments, combined with improvements in clinical settings and preventative strategies have resulted in a significant reduction in CVD mortality. Despite these huge advances in cardiovascular medicine, cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains a major social and economic challenge in Europe:

  • CVD is still the leading cause of death, accounting for 47% and 39% of all deaths in females and males respectively
  • CVD is closely linked to health inequalities, with more CVD-related deaths in females than males, and in middle-income compared with high-income countries. The most pronounced declines in coronary mortality have been in countries with the most advanced contemporary care
  • The success in reducing CVD mortality has led to increasing numbers of people living with chronic cardiovascular conditions including heart failure and vascular dementia
  • With the ageing population, CVD prevalence is expected to increase further and to co-exist with other diseases leading to multi-morbidity – a further challenge for patient management
  • Major risk factors for CVD including obesity, diabetes and elevated blood pressure (hypertension) are becoming more prevalent
  • Advances in oncological treatment have led to improved cancer survival but have also increased CVD morbidity and mortality due to the cardiotoxicity of cancer treatment.
  • In addition to the loss of, and impact on, human lives, the economic burden of CVD in EU countries exceeds a total of €210 billion and is expected to increase further in the coming decades.

To demonstrate the need for policy action, ESC Advocacy uses ESC Atlas of Cardiology data to produce the “ESC Cardiovascular Realities 2022” publication and a series of accompanying infographics, revealing wide geographic disparities and social inequalities. ESC Advocacy will continue to use Atlas data to raise the cardiovascular health profile on the EU policy agenda. 

Cardiovascular Disease in Women

Cardiovascular disease is often thought to be more of a male problem. However, it is the leading cause of death in women worldwide. Because symptoms of cardiovascular disease in women can differ from those in men, we are confronted with gender disparities, with CVD in women being understudied, underdiagnosed, and undertreated. It is necessary to:

  • raise the awareness of policymakers to the massive burden of CVD in women
  • have more women enrolled in clinical trials
  • mobilise more research funding to better understand CVD in women

Read how the ESC is committed to supporting women with cardiovascular disease.