ESC releases new statistics on heart disease

The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) and the European Heart Network (EHN) have unveiled new statistics on the burden of heart disease in Europe.

The figures represent the first comprehensive overview of the impact of cardiovascular disease (CVD) since 2008 and are being published to mark World Heart Day on September 29, the ESC and EHN said.

CVD now causes 4 million European deaths annually, down from 4.3 million in 2008. Within the EU, it causes 1.8 million deaths per year, down from 2 million in 2008.

"There is good news here, but it needs to be approached with some caution," ESC president Dr. Panos Vardas said in a statement. "Fewer lives are being lost to cardiovascular disease than in 2008. At the same time, the scale of the problem is enormous. CVD is still responsible for 4 million European deaths per year. This is a real human tragedy and a significant economic burden."

The report found that:

  • CVD is the main cause of death for women in each of the 27 EU countries.
  • CVD is the leading cause of death for men in all the EU countries except France, the Netherlands, Slovenia, and Spain.
  • Stroke is the second single most common cause of death in Europe, accounting for almost 1.1 million deaths each year.
  • CVD mortality rates vary across Europe: For men, CVD causes between 60% (Bulgaria) and 25% (France) of deaths and for women between 70% (Bulgaria) and 30% (France and the Netherlands) of deaths.
  • CVD's economic burden is estimated 196 billion euros ($252 billion U.S.) a year. The impact on national healthcare systems is approximately 212 euros ($272 U.S.) per year, per person, in the EU.

The drop in CVD mortality across Europe is due to a range of factors not just a single initiative, Vardas said. Measures taken to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and to highlight the dangers of smoking have helped, but at the same time increasing obesity and diabetes continue to contribute to the disease.

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