Figures show significant drop in mortality, but the scale of the problem is huge and will increase.
Released by the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) and the European Heart Network (EHN), these figures represent the first comprehensive overview of the impact of cardiovascular disease (CVD) since 2008.
The statistics show that efforts to reduce heart disease deaths are successful, with mortality now falling in most of the continent. At the same time, the report shows the huge burden CVD presents to Europe’s health, and suggests underlying factors that may cause CVD to increase in the near future.
The figures show some good news. Since the 2008 report there has been a substantial drop in the number of deaths attributed to heart disease. CVD is now responsible for four million European deaths annually, down from 4.3 million in 2008 (which represents a drop from 48% to 47% of total European deaths). Within the EU, it is responsible for 1.9 million deaths per year, down from two million in 2008 (40% of all EU deaths, down from 42%).
The report contains a range of European comparators, giving the latest available figures on mortality, morbidity, treatment, smoking, diet, physical activity, alcohol, blood pressure, cholesterol, overweight and obesity, diabetes, and financial implications for each country. Key statistics include:
CVD hits women especially hard – it 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. Over one in seven women (15%) and one in ten men (10%) die from the disease.
There are huge differences in CVD mortality within Europe. For example, for men CVD causes between 60% (Bulgaria) and 25% of deaths (France) and for women between 70% (Bulgaria) and 30% of deaths (France and the Netherlands).
The prevalence of diabetes is high, with more than 50% rises in some countries in the last decade. This, plus increasing obesity levels, is threatening to reverse the improvements of recent years5.
The economic burden of CVD is huge, estimated €196 billion a year, of which around 54% is due to direct health expenditure; 24% to productivity losses and 22% to the informal care of people with CVD. The impact on national health care systems is approximately €212 per year6, per person, in the EU.
The figures also show substantial regional differences. Central and Eastern Europe saw large increases in CVD deaths in the years up to the turn of the century, but now mortality rates in this region are declining significantly. For example, over the 2003-2009 period, the rate of coronary heart disease (CHD) deaths in Russian men dropped from 251 to 186 (per 100,000). Nevertheless, these figures are still huge in comparison with other areas in Europe: for example, the UK has a male mortality rate of 33 per 100,000, and in the Netherlands this rate is 16 per 100,000 (2009 figures).
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