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Preventing Chronic Diseases - Need for concerted action


The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) is calling for concerted action following the recent release of an important report of the World Heart Organisation (WHO).

"Preventing Chronic Diseases: A Vital Investment" (1) clearly demonstrates the full extent of the global burden of chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes and says global action to prevent chronic diseases could save the lives of 36 million people who would otherwise be dead by 2015.

The ESC strongly supports the report and its findings as cardiovascular disease (CVD), in its own, accounts for nearly half of all deaths in Europe (49%) and in the European Union (EU) (42%). (2)

In a mission to decrease these alarming figures, the ESC is eager to reinforce the message that the global epidemic of chronic diseases can only be stopped through concerted action. Professor Tendera, ESC President, states, "Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Europe, and what’s worse is that many cardiovascular diseases can be prevented or at least delayed."

Empowered with this perspective, the ESC has been calling to reunite forces in order to fight this battle in a joint effort. Professor Tendera stresses, "The prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease should be major priorities on both the national and pan-European level. The mission of the ESC is to ’improve the quality of life of the European population by reducing the incidence of cardiovascular disease’. To achieve this mission, we have called upon both medical and political institutions to establish a consensus across Europe regarding cardiovascular disease prevention and treatment."

The ESC is therefore proud to report that the medical community has actually managed to reach such common strive and consensus over the past few years through alliances such as the Third Joint European Societies’ Task Force on CVD Prevention (3) and the newly created European Association for Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation (EACPR). (4)

EACPR Chair Joep Perk of Oskarshamn District Hospital, Sweden comments: "The EACPR considers the new goal set by the WHO to reduce the worldwide death rate of chronic disease by two per cent per year over the next ten years as realistic and as important guidance for cardiologists around the world. There is abundant scientific evidence that preventive action is effective in terms both of mortality and morbidity and of health economic gains".

However as it is a societal problem, many other actors need to be mobilised. Professor Ian Graham, of the Adelaide & Meath Hospital, Ireland states: "Multinational companies (food, tobacco, petro-chemical etc) transcend National boundaries and have unique opportunities for good or harm. All possible pressure and encouragement should be used to help them to actively accept their societal responsibilities".

The ESC trusts that the recent progress in European policy for the prevention of CVD will mobilise key stakeholders on a national and pan European level. The recently voted Luxembourg Declaration (5), undersigned by high-level representatives of the Ministries of Health of EU Member States and Candidate Countries together with presidents of the National Cardiac Societies and Heart Foundations, reiterated the importance of conclusions from the Heart Health Council Meeting held in June 2004 (6) and defined key actions that member states and the European Commission need to implement to promote cardiovascular health in Europe.

Gina Dellios | alfa
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