The European Society of Cardiology (ESC), together with the European Association for Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation (EACPR) and the European Heart Network (EHN), launched on 29 August, during ESC Congress 2015, a public awareness campaign entitled just as the spotlight of the congress: ‘Environment & the Heart’.
The campaign aims at raising awareness about the need to create healthy environments for the protection of heart health and at encouraging policymakers’ action. Healthcare professionals, patients’ advocates, policymakers and the wider public were all invited to join the campaign by supporting the 'Environment & the Heart' Call for Action by signing the online petition.
European Society of Cardiology (ESC) and European Heart Network (EHN) leadership launch the E&H Campaign at ESC Congress 2015. From left to right, Prof Frans Van de Werf, ESC Chair of European Affairs Committee, Prof Fausto Pinto, ESC President, Prof Genevieve Derumeaux, ESC Chair of Congress Programme Committee, Mr Simon Gillespie, EHN President.
The results of the campaign, which included the collected signatures and the 'Environment & the Heart' Call for Action, were presented to the European Commissioners for Health, Environment, Climate Change and Transport in Brussels on World Heart Day, 29 September.
Call for Action for the European commissioners
A healthy environment for a healthy heart
(1) Environmental factors are estimated to be responsible for up to 20% of the disease burden in Europe. Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) make up the largest portion of this burden.[i]
(3) Up to 90% of the European population is exposed to high levels of air and noise pollution exceeding WHO recommended standards. [iv] [v]
(4) CVD accounts for 80% of all premature deaths due to air pollution. [vi]
(5) Noise pollution increases the risk of CVD, including hypertension and heart disease. In Europe, it is estimated to contribute to at least 10 000 premature deaths due to heart disease and stroke each year.[vii]
(6) Sustainable transport options reduce the negative effects of traditional transport patterns on human health, such as those caused by air and noise pollution and physical inactivity.[viii]
(7) Air and noise pollution affect less affluent countries in Central and Eastern Europe and disadvantaged social groups across Europe more markedly, thereby amplifying inequalities in CVD.[ix]
(8) Policy action is crucial to reduce the adverse health impact of environmental threats and, ultimately, to reduce the burden of CVD in Europe.
The European Society of Cardiology (ESC), the European Association for Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation (EACPR), the European Heart Network (EHN) and all signatories to the 'Environment & the Heart Campaign' call upon EU policymakers to promote a healthy environment for a healthy heart by:
- Adding air and noise pollution in the modifiable risk factors for CVD within the framework of a comprehensive EU strategy on the prevention and control of CVD;
- Including clean air and noise reduction into all policy areas;
- Adopting EU-wide limit values for air quality in line with WHO recommendations [x] as well as setting ambitious binding emission reduction commitments in the National Emissions Ceilings (NEC) Directive for 2025;
- Fostering green urban planning in order to reduce pollution and promote physical activity;
- Promoting clean modes of power generation, including low-emissions vehicles and fuels, and renewable combustion-free power sources;
- Securing EU funding for research on the effects of environmental stressors on the cardiovascular system;
- Following-up on the 1987 Year for Environment, 1994 Year for Health and Nutrition and 2013 Year of Air by setting 2018 as the Year for Chronic Diseases, encompassing health inequalities, social, economic and environmental factors.