Sunday

17th Dec 2017

Focus

Cardiovascular disease remains Europe's biggest killer

  • Cardiovascular disease accounts for 45% of all deaths in Europe and 37% of all deaths in the EU. (Photo: Getty Images)

Death rates from cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes are falling but still cost the EU economy an estimated €210 billion a year, according to new figures.

Despite overall success in maintaining a fall in mortality rates, inequality between different parts of Europe persists, with central and Eastern Europe lagging behind.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

An annual study by the European Heart Network - an alliance of heart foundations and NGOs in 25 countries - shows that cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the biggest killer of men in all but 12 countries in the region, and the main cause of death in women in all except two.

CVD includes several conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels, including coronary heart disease, stroke, peripheral arterial disease and aortic disease.

Published on Valentine’s Day, the fifth edition of the European Cardiovascular Disease Statistics reported that more than 85 million people in the 53 countries of the European region - as defined by the WHO - live with CVD.

Within the EU countries, where around 49 million people have some form of CVD, research showed a total annual cost of €210 billion to the economy in 2015.

More than a quarter of the cost is attributed to lost productivity, and a further 21% to the “opportunity cost” of informal care, which is a measure of the amount of money that carers forgo to provide unpaid care for relatives or friends suffering from CVD.

Chief executive of the British Heart Foundation and president of the EHN, Simon Gillespie, said despite the advances made in preventing and treating heart conditions, the analysis was a “powerful reminder that cardiovascular disease remains Europe's biggest killer”.

Lifestyle factors

Lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet, physical activity and alcohol consumption are contributors to heart disease, which is largely preventable.

With its ability to raise blood pressure, increase the risk of blood clots and inflame the arteries, smoking is a key risk and still a “key public health issue in Europe”, said the report.

Smoking has been decreasing across Europe over the last four decades but the pace has slowed and, in some cases, is flattening out or even rising, especially among women - for example in Slovenia, Latvia and the Netherlands.

In almost every country, the prevalence of smoking remains higher among men than women, but the gap is closing and women in EU countries are more likely to smoke than those in non-EU states.

In four former Soviet countries - Georgia, Moldova, Latvia and Russia - more than half of men aged over 15 are smokers. In Western and Northern Europe, the smoking rate among males was found to be less than 30%, with the exception of France, at 33%.

Increasingly sedentary lifestyles are a further risk factor, and researchers found that few adults took the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended amount of physical activity of at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, at least 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both.

Nearly half of all deaths

Of EU residents surveyed on sport or non-sporting exercise like walking, dancing or gardening, 42% said they never participated in these activities. In eight countries, mainly in Southern Europe, more than half of respondents reported never exercising.

Conditions such as obesity and diabetes, which increase the risk of heart disease, are on the rise, with diabetes rocketing by more than 50% over the last decade in some European countries.

Gillespie added: "Nearly half (45%) of all deaths in Europe in 2015 were caused by cardiovascular diseases. This shows the urgent need to fund more research towards faster, more accurate diagnosis and treatments, alongside work to help prevent people developing heart and circulatory diseases in the first place.”

Europe's obesity battle, a haphazard reality

EU states are alarmed at the bulging waistlines of their citizens, but governments remain unwilling to commit to binding measures or an EU-wide approach to the problem.

Feature

How Denmark led the way on 'sin taxes'

Denmark ditched their fat tax and cut levies on beer, but Danes still furnish health campaigners with the bulk of their evidence for "sin taxes" on unhealthy food and drink.

Warning over Europe's sugar-guzzling habits

Europeans get through a huge amount of sugary drinks, causing serious risks to their health, a study backed by anti-obesity campaigners suggests. But southern Europe has seen a marked decline in consumption.

Crowded race to win EU medicines agency

As cities line up to take over the European Medicines Agency some fear a kerfuffle that could destabilise the agency's work and slow down the pace of approving new medicines.

EU calls for better disease prevention

EU health commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis is encouraging states to spend more to prevent diseases that weigh much on health systems.

Supported by

News in Brief

  1. EU adopts 'track-and-trace' tobacco system
  2. Luxembourg appeals Amazon tax decision
  3. EU leaders agree to open phase 2 of Brexit talks
  4. Juncker: May made 'big efforts' on Brexit
  5. Merkel took 'tough' line on Russia at EU summit
  6. EU leaders added line supporting 'two-state' solution
  7. EU leaders agree to 20 European Universities by 2024
  8. Belgian courts end legal proceedings against Puigdemont

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  2. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% plastics recycling rate attainable by 2025 new study shows
  3. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  4. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  5. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  6. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  10. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  12. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties

Latest News

  1. Catalonia, Brexit, and Uber on EU agenda This WEEK
  2. Macron and Merkel take tough line on Poland
  3. Eurozone future needs structural reforms, EU leaders told
  4. Showdown EU vote on asylum looking likely for next June
  5. EU stresses unity as it launches next phase of Brexit talks
  6. Polish PM ready for EU sanctions scrap
  7. Dutchman to lead powerful euro working group
  8. EU mulls post-Brexit balance of euro and non-eurozone states

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUEU Blacklist of Tax Havens Is a Sham
  2. EU2017EERole of Culture in Building Cohesive Societies in Europe
  3. ILGA EuropeCongratulations to Austria - Court Overturns Barriers to Equal Marriage
  4. Centre Maurits CoppietersCelebrating Diversity, Citizenship and the European Project With Fundació Josep Irla
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceUnderstanding the Social Consequences of Obesity
  6. Union for the MediterraneanMediterranean Countries Commit to Strengthening Women's Role in Region
  7. Bio-Based IndustriesRegistration for BBI JU Stakeholder Forum about to close. Last chance to register!
  8. European Heart NetworkThe Time Is Ripe for Simplified Front-Of-Pack Nutrition Labelling
  9. Counter BalanceNew EU External Investment Plan Risks Sidelining Development Objectives
  10. EU2017EEEAS Calls for Eastern Partnership Countries to Enter EU Market Through Estonia
  11. Dialogue PlatformThe Turkey I No Longer Know
  12. World Vision7 Million Children at Risk in the DRC: Donor Meeting to Focus on Saving More Lives