European CVD Thought Leadership Forum


Over the past 50 years, European countries have seen consistent growth in life expectancy, largely due to improvements in the management of cardiovascular disease (CVD). But this progress has stalled, and the number of people dying from CVD is steadily rising. This is a serious concern for the future of our societies and health systems.

CVD takes a huge toll on people’s lives and costs European countries billions of euros. CVD is Europe’s leading cause of death, accounting for 45% of all deaths in 2017. But a high proportion of these are preventable, either through addressing modifiable risk factors or improving access to high-quality care and disease management.

If we know how to prevent and manage CVD, why aren’t we doing it? There is no easy answer, but it is telling that despite the huge structural barriers to securing consistent guideline-based cardiovascular care for all who need it, political awareness of CVD appears to be low. Many national plans and strategies in this area are outdated, or lack concrete investment and implementation measures.

There have recently been signs of renewed interest in CVD. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a huge toll on front-line care services, but has also been a wake-up call for governments to reconsider the resilience and sustainability of our health systems. We urgently need greater clarity as to what effective CVD policies might look like.


  • Birgit Beger CEO of the European Heart Network
  • James Kennedy Director of Public Affairs European Society of Cardiology
  • Dr Jane Barratt Secretary General of the International Federation on Ageing
  • Professor Larry Sperling of the Emory University School of Medicine, United States
  • Professor Huon Grey, former National Clinical Director for Heart Disease, NHS England
  • Dr. Anneke Schmider, Chatham House Fellow, formerly WHO and Treasury of the Queensland Government, Australia
  • Neil Johnson, National Institute for Prevention and Cardiovascular Health, Ireland

At this launch, we seek to bring original insights into how we can progress a new generation of national CVD plans, while simultaneously securing deeper political commitment to them from a wider spectrum of societal and economic agendas. This reflects the content of two new think pieces we’ve produced, which are Finding inspiration within prominent national cardiovascular disease plans (July 2022), and The heart of society – why addressing cardiovascular disease is critical to achieving wider societal goals (Sept 2022)

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