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16-08-2016 | Cardiology | News | Article

CVD burden varies widely across Europe

medwireNews: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the most common cause of death in Europe, but the burden of disease varies widely across the region, to the extent that cancer has overtaken heart disease as the biggest killer in some countries.

The data, collaborated by Nick Townsend and colleagues from the University of Oxford, show that CVD causes more than 4 million deaths each year across Europe, accounting for 45% of all deaths.

However, decreasing CVD rates overall mean that more men die from cancer than CVD in 12 of the 53 member states of the World Health Organization (WHO) European region, while more women die from cancer in two countries.

“These figures highlight the wide inequalities between European countries in deaths from CVD. The 12 countries in which cancer has overtaken CVD as the main cause of death are all found in Western Europe, with nine of them having been members of the EU [European Union] before 2004. The highest numbers of deaths from CVD tend to be seen in Eastern European countries”, Townsend told the press.

Indeed, data from the WHO Mortality Database for the most recent year available showed that 54% of all deaths (2.1 million) in non-EU member countries were caused by CVD. This compared with 33% of deaths (1.3 million) in the 15 countries that were members of the EU before 2004 (EU-15) and 38% of deaths (1.9 million) in the EU-28 countries, that is the EU-15 countries plus those that joined after 2004.

Overall, coronary heart disease (CHD) and cerebrovascular disease were the most common causes of CVD deaths, accounting for 1.8 million and 1.0 million deaths, respectively.

And the number of deaths from CVD was higher in women than men, with CVD accounting for 49% (2.2 million) of all deaths in women and 40% (1.8 million) of all deaths in men. This difference was due to more women dying from cerebrovascular disease and “other cardiovascular diseases” than men, as the rates of CHD were similar between the two groups.

However, for premature CVD deaths, which were recorded for 1.4 million people under the age of 75 years and almost 700,000 under the age of 65 years, the rate was higher in men than women, particularly for those younger than 65 years, and the highest rates were again observed in non-EU countries.

Townsend and co-authors conclude that their findings highlight the need “for more research into improved outcomes in Western and EU countries and the collection of improved data to make comparisons on mortality and morbidity between countries, in order that interventions can be better targeted to combat inequalities.”

The paper, published in the European Heart Journal, is the fourth in a series describing the burden of CVD within Europe.

 By Laura Cowen

medwireNews is an independent medical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2016