Calling for a comprehensive EU policy response to improve the cardiovascular health of European citizens

World Heart Day acts as a milestone to remind the EU of the huge inequalities in cardiovascular health and the need for strong political will to tackle them.

On World Heart Day, the European Alliance for Cardiovascular Health reminds the EU that cardiovascular health can only be realised if coordinated policies are developed within and between countries in the EU. Cardiovascular health is the heart of the matter if we are to live longer and healthier lives.  

World Heart Day acts as a milestone to remind the EU of the huge inequalities in cardiovascular health and the need for strong political will to tackle them.

Over the past 30 years, deaths and disability from cardiovascular disease have steadily increased in Europe, and CVD remains the leading cause of death in Europe and the world. CVD impacts the lives of more than 60 million Europeans every day and costs the EU economy 210 billion EUR every year. As recently stated by the World Health Organisation, “although COVID is the most visible pandemic of our lifetime, it is neither the deadliest nor the most preventable. Cardiovascular disease has killed five times as many people. We have the public health tools to tackle it. The question is, can we muster the social and political will to use them?”

CVD is a vast group of disorders, all related to the heart and circulatory (vascular) system, including stroke. CVD is closely related to other chronic diseases such as diabetes or kidney disease, but also to vascular dementia, which is often caused by heart disease and strokes.

As evidenced by experts, there are striking differences between countries in the EU, not only in terms of the incidence of CVD, but also in terms of national prevention and treatment strategies. With the upcoming EU elections, there is an opportunity to position the cardiovascular health plan as a public health priority.

The time to act is now. There is a strong case for the EU to come forward with a European Cardiovascular Health Plan to promote and facilitate coordinated and appropriate actions, ranging from prevention and early detection to treatment and rehabilitation, to ensure a good and healthy quality of life, for all people across the Member States.

An EU Cardiovascular Health Plan will be the tool for an integrated response to ensure that European citizens live longer, healthier lives – regardless of where they were born or live in the EU. Such a plan would be a blueprint and potentially an inspiration and best practice for action inside and outside of the EU to promote cardiovascular health.

Ambitious incentives and actions have been set to support policymakers in EACH Vision for Europe, unveiled earlier this year.  EACH strives to shift focus from cardiovascular disease to cardiovascular health for all people, through primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention, including quality of life and psychological outcomes across the spectrum of cardiovascular health. Cross-cutting actions comprise: 1) a European Cardiovascular Health Data Knowledge Centre, 2) a European Cardiovascular Health Observatory, 2) national Cardiovascular Health plans, and 4) a progressive policy environment for digital transformation in Cardiovascular Health.