The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) welcomes and endorses the ‘Health at a Glance: Europe 2016’ report recently published by the OECD and the European Commission.
“The report highlights gains in life expectancy across Europe,” said Prof. Peter Kearney, chair of the ESC Advocacy Committee. “But the report also points to areas that can and must be addressed in order to reduce the number of premature deaths due to cardiovascular disease and other non-communicable diseases.”
Major breakthroughs in treatment and care have led to a 40% decline in mortality among heart attack patients admitted to hospital in the last decade. However, cardiovascular disease still causes more than 4 million deaths each year across Europe, accounting for 45% of all mortality. Direct and indirect costs of the disease are estimated at 196 billion Euros per year. The pain and suffering to patients and their families is unquantifiable.
Eighty percent of premature heart disease and stroke is preventable.The risk factors are well documented and irrefutable. Yet an alarming number of adults continue to indulge in dangerous lifestyles. According to the REACT (Reassessing Attitudes about Cardiovascular Treatment) survey, six months after a cardiac event: 19% of individuals were still smoking, 25% were still overweight, 53% continued to be hypertensive and 86% still had high cholesterol.
The European Society of Cardiology is dedicated to reducing the burden of cardiovascular disease. It is a founding member of the European Chronic Disease Alliance, as well as co-author of the European Heart Health Charter, designed to prevent cardiovascular disease in Europe. In 2016 the ESC, together with 10 major European professional societies, published Prevention Guidelines which, for the first time, included evidence-based, public policy recommendations.
“The Health at a Glance report underlines the urgent need for implementation of population based prevention measures to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases”,said Prof Joep Perk, an ESC member from Sweden. “Our Prevention Guidelines set out guidance for policymakers for stronger laws and policies on food, physical activity and smoking. Furthermore, the European Association of Preventive Cardiology’s Prevention in Your Country reports can help address the significant disparities in disease burden across Europe by showcasing inspiring prevention policies to help raise standards in those countries lagging behind.”
The value of high-quality, comparable data is essential, and the ESC is dedicated to complementing the annual OECD/EC report with detailed, cardiovascular statistics from across its 56 national cardiac societies, in its Atlas of Cardiology.
“It is imperative that systems are in place for collecting reliable, standardized data”, said Prof. Kearney. “The disparate rates of myocardial revascularization both within and between countries as evidenced in the report, indicate the probability of under provision of services and the possibility of overprovision. Conclusions cannot be drawn from high level data of this sort. To argue for equitable access and to ensure appropriate, cost-effective care, far more attention must be paid to the importance of systematic data collection”.