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Cardiovascular disease is Europe’s biggest killer according to new analysis

Study highlights major disparities in death rates across continent

is the main cause of death in Europe accounting for nearly half (45 per cent) of all deaths, according to new a study1 funded by the (BHF).

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.

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.

The BHF argues 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 the BHF released new data showing that heart attacks kill nearly 200 people each week before retirement age2.

The charity’s figures show that nearly 10,000 people across the UK suffered a fatal heart attack before reaching the age of 65, in 2014. The figures have been released as the BHF launches a new campaign to highlight how heart conditions, including heart attack, can suddenly devastate families across the country every day.

Simon Gillespie4, Chief Executive at the British Heart Foundation, which funded the research, 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 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.”

The BHF currently funds around £100 million of new research in to 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 and donations of its 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 disease3.

To help the British Heart Foundation fight back against heart disease, visit bhf.org.uk/fightback