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Women's Health at Heart: ESC/EHN recommendations and call for EU action on CVD

Risk Factors and Prevention

Brussels, March 7th, 2005 -- Under the Auspices of the Austrian Presidency, the European Heart Network (EHN) and the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) held the 2006 European Cardiovascular Health Conference: Women's Health at Heart: Promoting Cardiovascular Health and Preventing Cardiovascular Disease. It examined the elements needed for a broad CVD strategy to prevent CVD across Europe, which currently costs EU member states over €463 million each day.

The Conference was attended by representatives of Member State health ministries, MEPs, Commission officials, patient group representatives, Health attachés, cardiologists, national parliamentarians and Health Ministers. This is an important event encompassing all the key stakeholders in the debate.

“Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one killer in Europe, and yet, according to WHO about 50 % of CVD can be prevented. Together with ESC, we have called upon the EU institutions to act concretely to achieving better cardiovascular health for all Europeans. There is a need for the EU institutions to recognise their ability to create a strategy which would help save hundreds of thousands of lives,“ says Susanne Volqvartz, President of the European Heart Network.

"Cardiologists cannot handle the problem of cardiovascular disease alone – we need a strong coalition of politicians, industry professionals and organisations to publicize not only the dangers of CVD but also the ways to combat it," says Michal Tendera, European Society of Cardiology president. "The ESC is committed to promoting prevention through a healthy diet, daily exercise and a life that does not include tobacco. The decision to promote women's heart health during the Austrian EU presidency will help highlight the importance of preventive measures and how to maintain a healthy heart."

“I welcome this conference and its focus on heart health of women. The European Commission will continue to support efforts to prevent cardiovascular disease, primarily through taking action on the underlying determinants of heart health - such as nutrition and physical activity, tobacco smoking and alcohol abuse,” says Markos Kyprianou, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Affairs.

“There must be continuity with EU legislation – taking one step for CVD prevention by focussing on healthy eating and smoking cessation, must be followed by addressing Cardiovascular disease directly, tackling all risk factors,” says Georges Andrejevs, MEP, vice chair of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee, and Co-Chair of its Public Health Working Group. “We have seen too little policy action to combat this major health challenge– which is why I believe that we, as MEPs, must do more. I will initiate a Parliamentary Resolution demanding action on CVD prevention and screening on EU level. There is a need to promote minimum standards for cardiovascular disease prevention and care across Europe.”

“The Austrian presidency recognises the importance for the EU to act along these lines,” says Maria Rauch-Kallat, Austrian Health Minister, “Such a holistic approach at EU level would help reduce the CVD gap and would benefit member states with growing incidence inside the EU. Gender specific differences must be taken into account in all future research and action programmes. “

The European Heart Network and the European Society Cardiology has issued a “Conclusions and Call for Action” which calls for a European integrated strategy for tackling CVD that enables the exchange of best practices and benchmarking intervention methods between member states.

The European Heart Network/European Society of Cardiology recommendations and call for EU action

  • The European Union needs to mobilise its health community to ensure that cardiovascular health is properly considered in all relevant EU policies.
  • The EU’s Role as a coordinator and facilitator of exchange of views and bets practices must be applied across all fields. The EU health action programme must therefore make a clear reference to those diseases that constitute the major health burden in the EU, namely cardiovascular disease, diabetes, mental health, cancer and pulmonary diseases.
  • The 7th framework programme for research should ensure sufficient funds for cardiovascular research, including gender-specific research.
  • The Commission should continue to support activities on cardiovascular health promotion, such as collecting relevant information, establishing expert networks, drafting guidelines on prevention and screening through the existing and future EU public health action programmes.
  • In order to ensure the best cardiovascular health for all Europeans, gender-specific aspects must be taken into account in every EU strategy for future research and action.
  • EHN/ESC call upon the council of ministers to adopt an EU Recommendation on a concrete EU-wide cardiovascular strategy from the European Commission encompassing:

    - Cardiovascular health promotion
    - Mechanisms in support of the member states strategies and activities
    - Guidelines on risk assessment, optimal preventive methods,
       treatment, rehabilitation and screening

Notes to editor

The European Society of Cardiology (ESC)

The ESC represents more than 45,000 cardiology professionals across Europe and the Mediterranean. Its mission is to improve the quality of life of the European population by reducing the impact of cardiovascular disease. The ESC achieves this through a variety of scientific and educational activities including the coordination of: clinical practice guidelines, education courses and initiatives, pan-European surveys on specific disease areas and the ESC Annual Congress, the largest medical meeting in Europe.