The European Society of Cardiology and the European Heart Network have announced a campaign urging legislators to address cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), particularly during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, as the virus places a higher burden on patients with cardiovascular health concerns.1

The initiative, called “Fighting Cardiovascular Disease: A Blueprint for EU Action,” was announced at a virtual meeting attended by European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides and members of the European Parliament.1

“Before the outbreak, the burden of CVD was already greater than that of any other disease and the leading cause of death in Europe and in the world,” said a press release from the European Society of Cardiology. “The pandemic will make this already gloomy scenario worse.”1

According to the press release, nearly 13 million new cases of CVD are diagnosed annually in the European Union, accounting for approximately 20% of mortality before age 65.1 Although the link between CVD and COVID-19 is still being investigated, the initiative did list several reasons to begin taking action early.

Current research has already found that CVD is among the most common pre-existing conditions among people who die from COVID-19, and that the virus triggers an inflammatory response that can damage the heart and blood vessels.1 Furthermore, even among patients who are not infected with COVID-19, emergency hospital admissions for heart attacks and stroke have halved during the pandemic, resulting in many at-home deaths or increased damage to patients’ hearts and brains.1

The initiative includes a range of actions to address these concerns, including a program spanning policy, research, and regulation. The blueprint specifies that prevention should be the top priority, in order to address all avoidable cases of CVD.2 Other priorities should include innovative and modernized research regulations and improving patient care through better diagnosis, treatment, and management practices.2

“Because of the scale of the disease and the many risk factors and lifestyle determinants, cardiovascular disease is best described as a societal disease,” said European Heart Network president Floris Italianer, in a statement. “As such, effective regulation and population-wide interventions are necessary to prevent it. Improvements in cardiovascular patients’ care and treatment are also needed.”1

REFERENCES
  1. The cardiovascular legacy of COVID-19: the time for the EU to act is now [news release]. European Society of Cardiology; June 25, 2020. https://www.escardio.org/The-ESC/Press-Office/Press-releases/the-cardiovascular-legacy-of-covid-19-the-time-for-the-eu-to-act-is-now. Accessed June 26, 2020.
  2. Fighting Cardiovascular Disease: A Blueprint for EU Action. European Society of Cardiology, European Heart Network. June 2020; https://www.escardio.org/static_file/Escardio/Advocacy/Documents/2020%20ESC-EHN-blueprint_digital%20edition.pdf. Accessed June 26, 2020.