Why We Support an EU-Wide Cardiovascular Disease Strategy
Twelve organizations are calling on the European Commission to develop an EU-wide policy for cardiovascular disease. BIOTRONIK supports this call.
As economically prosperous as the EU is, its population is gradually aging. By 2040, 155 million people in the EU will be over the age of 65. In many ways, this is good news, as well-developed health systems offer Europeans some of the best medical care in the world. But we also stand to see a large increase in the number of Europeans at risk for heart attacks, atrial fibrillation, heart failure, and strokes. Today, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is already the top cause of mortality in the European Union, accounting for 36% of all deaths. By 2040, stroke rates are projected to increase by 35%. Taking care of an aging population is a common challenge requiring us in the European medical community to partner up to improve cardiovascular care for all people in Europe. However, where a person lives in the EU can be correlated with greater risk. For example, the CVD-related mortality rate for women in Lithuania is 13 times higher than for women in France. That’s why BIOTRONIK supports a recent joint statement issued by twelve organizations, including the European Society of Cardiology and MedTech Europe, calling on the European Commission to develop a comprehensive CVD policy at the EU level – to help address these disparities and improve cardiovascular care for all Europeans.
What can an EU CVD policy do?
The European Commission’s work in health already involves coordinating and equalizing healthcare access across the EU. Its recent joint vaccine procurement program acted to ensure that no EU country was left behind in having enough vaccines to immunize its residents against COVID-19. The European Commission also has a wide array of instruments to fund critical research and facilitate cross-border projects. These include Horizon Europe and EU4Health research grants, in addition to other instruments across a variety of related Commission portfolios. It’s well-placed to help coordinate projects all over the EU, while a European Health Data Space can help researchers through access to more robust, Europe-wide data pools. These would allow researchers to compare lifestyle factors like diet type, obesity, diabetes, and physical exercise across the whole 27-country EU, to gain a much better idea of what significant factors affect patient outcomes. Europe-wide data pools could also potentially identify genetic risks in a way that purely national samples cannot.
An EU-wide strategy would improve patient education and help us see, at a larger scale, which of those therapies are working, how medication coverage might be influencing patient outcomes and more.
“But there’s also a number of health system factors likely influencing the disparities in cardiovascular health across Europe. One example is whether patients have to pay for their own medication in their country, or whether the health system pays for it. The concentration of competencies in specialized heart centers also varies among countries where patients can access specialized therapies,” says Prof. Dr. Georg Nollert, BIOTRONIK’s Vice President for Medical Affairs. “An EU-wide strategy would improve patient education and help us see, at a larger scale, which of those therapies are working, how medication coverage might be influencing patient outcomes and more. We can then optimize therapy guidelines and manage healthcare costs on the basis of invaluable comparative data.”
Time is also a critical factor. For the European medical community to help improve current CVD projections for 2040, work has to start now. That’s why we support the joint statement’s call for quick and decisive action to put an EU-wide CVD policy together.