Heart attackThe publication of the new report on Cardiovascular Disease Statistics 2017 was the basis of a debate today in the European Parliament in Brussels.

The debate was organised by the Members of the European Parliament (MEP) Heart Group, with the support of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) and of the European Heart Network (EHN).

In a first presentation, the European Cardiovascular Disease Statistics 2017 report was presented. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is still the number one cause of death in Europe but the fall in death rates from heart disease and stroke over recent decades shows a sustainable trend.

“However, with obesity levels rising and diabetes increasing in Europe (in some countries by more than 50%) it is unlikely that the burden of cardiovascular disease, both in terms of human suffering and economic costs, will decrease,” said Mairead McGuinness co-chair of the MEP Heart Group. “Our focus must be on prevention of heart health problems and identifying those at risk from heart disease early on. This requires a firm focus in member states on health promotion rather than treating problems as they arise. If we could achieve this focus on prevention then there would be reduced suffering for patients and reduced costs for member states. This report should reinforce our efforts in this direction."

A second presentation showed the increasing cost of cardiovascular diseases on our societies. Whereas less people die from cardiovascular disease, more and more people live with the disease. “The total cost of €210 billion puts a heavy burden on the economy of the EU; if we want to be able to keep up the high living standard, the European Union has to put policies in place which reduce social and economic inequalities between different regions and countries in the EU and help people with chronic diseases to best manage their conditions,” said Karin Kadenbach, co-chair of the MEP Heart Group.

The third presentation focused on the quality of cardiovascular prevention activities around Europe. The European Association for Preventive Cardiology (EAPC) has joined hands with a network of national prevention coordinators in all European states, both within and outside the EU. On its dedicated website “Prevention in your Country” the coordinators have published national prevention reports. This site provides a unique overview of the state of prevention around Europe not only for health workers but even for politicians. Joep Perk, EAPC coordinator of the website, presented this key source of information at the MEP Heart Group meeting.