Cardiovascular disease is Europe's biggest killer

26 August 2015        

A female researcher in a lab

Cardiovascular disease is the main cause of death in Europe accounting for nearly half (45 percent) of all deaths, according to new a study we funded. 

Despite deaths from cardiovascular disease, which includes heart attack and stroke, falling in most European countries, the study has highlighted major inequalities in cardiovascular health between Western and Eastern Europe, which has higher death rates. In the UK death rates from cardiovascular disease have dropped by more than 40 per cent over a decade.

The analysis, led by Dr Nick Townsend, Senior Researcher at the BHF Centre on Population Approaches for Non-Communicable Disease Prevention at the University of Oxford, showed that nearly half (49 per cent) of all women in Europe die due to cardiovascular disease. In contrast, 40 per cent of men die because of heart and circulatory disease.

Need for more research

These figures are further evidence of the need for more research into improved diagnosis and treatment of heart and circulatory conditions, as well as more activity to prevent them occurring at all.

This week we released new figures showing that heart attacks kill nearly 200 people each week before retirement age. Nearly 10,000 people across the UK suffered a fatal heart attack before reaching the age of 65 in 2014. We've launched a new campaign to highlight how heart conditions, including heart attack, can suddenly devastate families across the country every day.

Worrying figures for women

Simon Gillespie_210x137Commenting on the new data, our Chief Executive, Simon Gillespie, said:

"This analysis is a powerful reminder that cardiovascular disease remains Europe's biggest killer, despite the advances we've made in preventing and treating heart conditions through medical research. We can't be fooled into thinking the battle against heart disease is won. 

"For women the figures are particularly worrying – almost half of the women in Europe die from heart attacks or strokes. This shows the urgent need to fund more research towards faster, more accurate diagnosis and more effective treatments, alongside work to help prevent people developing heart and circulatory diseases in the first place.

"The differences in cardiovascular disease deaths between the European nations are also concerning. Through the European Heart Network, an alliance of heart charities, we are working together to share resources and expertise, while funding research, to help reduce deaths and suffering from this heartless condition across the continent."

Research and prevention

We fund around £100 million of new research into heart and circulatory disease each year and are the largest independent funder of cardiovascular research in the UK and Europe. But we are completely reliant on the continued support and donations of our supporters to fund more research.

The charity is also working in partnership with Diabetes UK and Tesco to deliver a £15 million prevention programme which aims to reduce the number of people at risk from both Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Fighting back against heart disease

Find out more about our campaign and help us fight back through research.