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High-level roundtable discusses efforts to promote healthy hearts

Submitted by on 12 Apr 2018 – 09:11

A complex health issue that is interlinked with a number of other chronic conditions, cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the number one killer in Europe. The International Centre for Parliamentary Studies (ICPS) recently convened the Cardiac Health Europe Roundtable to create a platform to address the key policy challenges in managing the deadly disease in Europe. Diane Rolland, International Programme Manager at ICPS, points out the recommendations tabled at the roundtable

CVD is the main cause of mortality and disability in Europe. Despite the fall in CVD mortality in Europe, more than 4 million people die from CVD across the continent every year, and more than 1.4 million die prematurely, before the age of 75, accounting for nearly half of all deaths in Europe.

Many of these people have been exposed to unhealthy behaviours, including tobacco use, foods with high-salt content and inadequate physical activity.

Consequently, one of the most imperative health issues for EU member countries now is to create comprehensive prevention plans and ensure that effective policy measures and interventions are in place in all European countries.

Despite its prevalence and socio-economic costs, CVD is yet to be seen as the largest threat in Europe and there is a lack of investment in cardiovascular medicine. New and innovative approaches are urgently required across the EU.

The ICPS Cardiac Health Europe Roundtable 2017 gathered European policymakers, medical and clinical professionals, academic experts and patient group representatives, to examine the ongoing challenges in managing CVD and explore practical solutions in order to build a framework for action in cardiac health policy in the EU.


Education and prevention

Europe’s growing girth is clearly a cause for concern. Cardiovascular health in Europe is a mirror of the current way of living and unhealthy behaviours including tobacco use, desk-bound lifestyles, fast and junk food, lack of physical activity.

There is a clear need for lifestyle change.

This is where education needs to play the bigger role. There’s also a need to create preventive plans and ensure that effective policy measures and interventions are in place in all European countries.

Charting the course for the future of care

Technological breakthroughs are changing the course of heart-failure treatment; however, strong awareness programmes, primary care and early intervention are crucial in reducing mortality rates.

In particular, active involvement of patients could improve delivery of care and increase knowledge about the disease. Such patient engagement could be sought through the use of novel technologies such as distance monitoring and e-heart technologies.

Although such developments constitute the future of practice, questions of data protection, legal responsibility of the information and the subsequent treatment remain unanswered.

Is equal treatment for everyone achievable?

CVD inequalities are perpetuated by a range of factors including differences in rates of CVD (relating to socio-economic status), poor health literacy, genetic predisposition to risk factors for CVD, unhealthy lifestyles, geographic differences and access to novel technologies. Policymakers should urgently address these factors and assess how new technologies can be made available at regular check-ups.

Other recommendations for policymakers:

– More funding and clearer vision for research is needed;

– Secondary prevention should be expended, a lot more could be done to identify patients at risk of CVD;

– There is a need for distribution of money between education and prevention. Only by changing the current lifestyles of our societies can we achieve decrease of CVD;

– We need to create a favourable environment for healthy life choices;

– Health taxation should be high on the agenda;

– Prevention and treatment should come together and not be dissociated;

– A reimbursement scheme for telemedicine should be developed and made widely available across Europe to reduce disparities;

– There is a need to find the right strategies to for primary and secondary prevention – more focused on specific fields;

– It is important to ensure that the patient voice is heard at the highest level of policy;

– We need to increase patient support at primary care where they have a more holistic view of the patient;

– Better primary care, and especially community care, can help to improve access to data on heart disease;

– Countries should focus on providing access to evidence-based medicines, devices and diagnostics tests that are appropriate for every patient;

– Practitioners call for a more flexible regulatory framework to foster innovation.


Network coordinator and public affairs manager, European Heart Network; MEP heart group supporter, European Parliament;past president, European Society of Cardiology;head of department, Kaiser-Franz-Josef-Spital Austria; Professor, University Medical Centre Maribor Slovenia;senior advisor, World Health Organization Office at the European Union;director government affairs Europe, Amgen; VP medical affairs and chief medical officer, Cardiac Rhythm and Heart Failure, Medtronic;senior director medical affairs EMEA, Abbott Vascular;president, Luxembourg Society of Cardiology