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Boosting Cardiovascular Health in Europe – Towards More Resilient and Equitable Healthcare

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More than two years after the COVID-19 pandemic started, healthcare systems are taking stock of the lessons learnt to strengthen their response and improve the health outcomes of patients across disease areas. In this context, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) CVD Network commissioned a report in collaboration with PwC on “Boosting cardiovascular health in Europe: towards more resilient and equitable healthcare”, to assess the impact of COVID-19 on cardiovascular (CVD) care and to explore possible policy actions to strengthen the healthcare systems’ response to CVDs.

The report finds that:

  • Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the major cause of mortality and morbidity across Europe, affecting almost 95 million patients and, notably causing 1.24 million acute coronary events each year.
  • CVD accounts for almost one-third of all premature deaths and is responsible for 23 % of all disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) measured across Europe, exceeding the burden caused by all other non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including cancer.
  • At the same time, many CVDs are preventable or, at least, manageable with appropriate interventions, often more so than other major NCDs. Overall, about 70% of the CVD burden is attributable to risk factors that can be controlled or modified, such as hypertension, high cholesterol or diabetes.
  • COVID-19 has made things worse. The pandemic has increased the risk of hospitalisation and death for people with CVD and put healthcare systems under strain, disrupting detection and care pathways and exposing existing disparities in CVD care.
  • Short-term shocks, similar to the pandemic, are likely to become more frequent, thus boosting healthcare demand, and stretching healthcare services even further.
  • Evolving disease patterns will force healthcare systems to reshape their care delivery models. With 130 million Europeans expected to be over the age of 65 by 2050, CVD-related healthcare demand is bound to grow and transform over the coming decades.

Following the findings, the report offers a series of concrete policy recommendations that aim to re-design CVD care and equip European healthcare systems with the necessary tools to cope with future crises:

  • Strengthen population screening
    • Broaden screening programmes for genetic and metabolic risk factors
    • Simplify access to screening, especially for vulnerable populations
  • Ensure treatment initiation, maintenance, and follow-up for at-risk patients
    • Re-design healthcare systems to reward outcomes
    • Strengthen digital health and information sharing to improve disease management
  • Foster data-driven decision making
    • Harness the potential of data-driven solutions to inform CVD policies and support clinical decision-making and value-based care delivery

Cardiovascular diseases are Europe’s biggest health challenge. The time to act is now. Building on the available evidence, we need bold policy action for better population health in Europe” commented Christian Thonke and Sean Lybrand, co-Chairs of the EFPIA CVD Network.

The Report calls on all CVD stakeholders to play their part in advancing CVD prevention, detection and care, by putting the spotlight on secondary prevention and encouraging a smarter use of digital technologies.

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Contact information

Andy Powrie-Smith, Executive Director of Communications, EFPIA
andy.powrie-smith@efpia.eu

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