Cardiovascular disease remains Europe's biggest killer - we can beat it with research

15 August 2016        

Category: BHF Comment

Doctor checking heartbeat

Cardiovascular disease is still the main cause of death in Europe, accounting for nearly half (45 per cent) of all deaths, according to a new study we funded. There are around four million deaths from cardiovascular disease across Europe each year, including more than 150,000 in the UK.

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 compared with 40 per cent of men.

Progress in Western Europe

But the study, published in the European Heart Journal, also illustrates the success of our work, made possible by public support, and others' in fighting heart disease because cardiovascular disease is no longer the main cause of death in several countries in Western Europe. The countries include: Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and the UK.

Dr Townsend said: "These figures highlight the wide inequalities between European countries in deaths from cardiovascular disease. The 12 countries in which cancer has overtaken cardiovascular disease as the main cause of death are all found in Western Europe, with nine of them having been members of the EU before 2004. The highest numbers of deaths from cardiovascular disease tend to be seen in Eastern European countries."

Research needed to continue progress

Professor Chris Denning looking down a microscopeCoronary heart disease remains the single biggest killer in the UK, responsible for nearly 70,000 deaths each year. We are urgently calling for more research to improve diagnosis and treatment of heart and circulatory conditions.

Our Associate Medical Director, Dr Mike Knapton, said: "Our research has helped halve the annual number of deaths from cardiovascular disease in the UK since the BHF was created more than fifty years ago. This study is a reminder of the tremendous progress that has been made in fighting heart disease in the UK and across Western Europe.

"But we cannot be complacent. Around seven million people in the UK are living with cardiovascular disease. We urgently need to improve treatments and care for these people who are living with the pain, distress and disability caused by heart disease and stroke. Research will make the discoveries that will drive those improvements and help us to transform people's lives."

Arun lost his friend to a heart attack at just 33. Read his story.

Research powered by your support

The BHF funds around £100 million of new research into heart and circulatory disease each year and is the largest independent funder of cardiovascular research in the UK and Europe. But the charity is completely reliant on the continued support of the UK public to fund more research.

Help us fund continue the fight against heart disease.