Sophia Antipolis, 3 February 2021: European and national decision-makers must act now to prevent further damage to heart health after the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s statement from the MEP Heart Group was presented during an online meeting of European leaders.
The meeting was organised by the Members of the European Parliament (MEP) Heart Group, which is supported by the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) and the European Heart Network (EHN).
COVID-19 has had a significant impact on heart health and the delivery of cardiovascular care. Even before the outbreak, cardiovascular disease (CVD) was the leading cause of death in Europe and the EU. More than 60 million people live with CVD in the EU and nearly 13 million new cases are diagnosed each year. The pandemic has aggravated this grim scenario, leaving many patients with new cardiovascular conditions after recovering from COVID-19.1
Cardiovascular complications linked to COVID-19 are wide ranging and include cardiac injury, arrhythmia and heart failure. Pre-existing cardiovascular conditions are particularly important predictors of COVID-19 severity and mortality.
The MEP Heart Group calls for European and national decision-makers to:
- Develop separate treatment pathways for cardiac emergencies to reduce the risk of infection.
- Resume clinical activity to prevent, diagnose and treat CVD.
- Support research on: digital health technologies to prevent and manage CVD; treatments for COVID-19 patients with, or at risk of, CVD; the interaction of COVID-19 with CVD.
- Invest in the collection of Europe-wide health data.
Maria da Graça Carvalho, MEP, Co-Chair of the MEP Heart Group said: “The repercussions of the pandemic on cardiovascular mortality and morbidity risk being exponential unless bold action is taken. Improving cardiovascular health will have a crucial impact on the resilience of our healthcare systems.”
Sandra Gallina, Director General, DG Health, European Commission said: “While national governments are responsible for organising and delivering healthcare, the pandemic has demonstrated that health action and coordination at EU level can be a real game-changer for European patients.”
Professor Hugo Katus, ESC Advocacy Committee Chair said: “An ESC survey showed that during the pandemic, many patients having a heart attack were too afraid to seek life-saving treatment due to fears of catching the coronavirus. We need to avoid this scenario happening again.”2
Tuija Brax, EHN Vice-President and Finnish Heart Association CEO said: “The pandemic kickstarted more widespread use of telemonitoring and teleconsultation for patients with heart disease. It’s time to evaluate which measures were most successful so that more patients can benefit.”
Brando Benifei MEP, Co-Chair of the MEP Heart Group said: “The COVID-19 outbreak has put a sharp focus on the weaknesses of healthcare systems across Europe and generated an unprecedented strain on hospitals and healthcare professionals. We now need to redesign healthcare delivery, take forward research, and translate innovative solutions into practice.”
Today’s online meeting gathered participants from across the EU health sector, including EU decision-makers, academia, healthcare providers, patients, and the healthcare industry.