Burden of Cardiovascular Disease

CVD is a leading cause of death in developed and developing countries1. Particularly coronary heart disease (CHD) and ischemic stroke are leading causes of premature mortality and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) in Europe resulting in over 4 million deaths each year2.

CVD accounts in Europe for 42% of all female deaths before the age of 75 years, as well as causing 38% of deaths in men3. The World Health Organization (WHO) also estimates that CVD is the largest disease burden on Europe, accounting for 27% of all DALYs1.

As a consequence, CVD is a major burden on healthcare budgets and costs the European Union nearly €200 billion each year2. Of this total cost, around 54% is due to health care costs, 24% due to productivity losses and 22% due to the informal care of people with CVD2.


The WHO states that more than three-quarters of CVD mortality may be prevented with adequate changes in lifestyle.6

CVD risk factors

The causes of CVD are multifactorial with many directly linked to diet and lifestyle. The major risk factors include:3

Non-modifiable risk factors:
Increasing age
Genetic background
Modifiable risk factors (behavioural): Modifiable risk factors (metabolic):
Unhealthy diet Elevated LDL-cholesterol
Lack of exercise Elevated triglycerides (TG) and low HDL-cholesterol
Smoking Elevated blood pressure
The majority of risk factors are modifiable with changes including following a healthy diet or other lifestyle changes, such as stopping smoking and taking regular exercise.4,5
For more detailed information on CVD risk factors please visit: Joint EAS/ESC Guidelines