Research Shows Declining CVD Rates Vary Across European Countries

While deaths from cardiovascular disease and stroke are declining overall, they are doing so at significantly different rates between countries, according to an update on the burden of cardiovascular disease across European countries.

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The new epidemiological investigation published Aug. 20 in the European Heart Journal, found that cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death among Europeans than any other condition to date, and despite recent declines in mortality rates in many countries, it is responsible for killing over 4 million per year, close to half all deaths in Europe. On its own, coronary heart disease (CHD) accounts for almost 1.8 million deaths, 20 percent of all deaths in Europe. Separating genders over the last year, the proportion of all deaths attributable to cardiovascular disease were significantly greater in women (51 percent) than in men (42 percent). Cardiovascular disease caused more than four times more deaths than cancer in 15 countries.

Despite these statistics, data also show cardiovascular disease to be on the decline across some European countries. For example, among men in 10 European countries (Belgium, Denmark, France, Israel, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and San Marino), cancer is the cause of more deaths than cardiovascular disease. In addition, for the first time, cancer has surpassed cardiovascular disease as the leading cause of death among women in one country (Denmark). Data also showed that mortality and case-fatality rates from CHD and stroke have decreased substantially over the last five to 10 years, but at varied rates.

According to the study authors, these trends are leading to an increasing inequality in the burden of cardiovascular disease between countries. "Worldwide, there have been few moments in history during which non-communicable diseases have enjoyed such a prominent place in the world's attention, with cardiovascular disease at the forefront of the activity," says Nick Townsend, MD, co-author of the study, and senior researcher at the BHF Centre on Population Approaches for Non-Communicable Disease Prevention. "Despite this, there has been little commitment at the national or regional level to greater monitoring and reporting of risk factors and outcomes for cardiovascular disease. It is clear that in many countries of Europe, cardiovascular disease mortality has continued to decrease substantially in recent years, and will make a large contribution to achieving this goal. In these (predominantly high income) countries, a 'tipping point' is rapidly approaching, when cancer deaths will outnumber cardiovascular disease deaths, particularly among men. In many other countries, however, the cardiovascular disease burden dwarfs that of cancer, and a large proportion of the populations will lose their lives prematurely to heart disease and stroke."

Keywords: Cause of Death, Stroke, Socioeconomic Factors, Cardiovascular Diseases, Coronary Disease, Risk Factors, Cost of Illness

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