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. CVD is resulting in over 3.9 million deaths or 45% of all death each year1.

CVD accounts in Europe for 35% of all deaths before the age of 75 years, both in men and women1. CVD is the largest disease burden on Europe, accounting for 23% of all DALYs lost1,2.

As a consequence CVD is a major burden on healthcare budgets and costs the European Union nearly €210 billion each year2. Of this total cost, around 53% is due to health care costs, 26% due to productivity losses and 21% due to the informal care of people with CVD1.


With adequate changes in lifestyle, at least 80% of (premature) CVD mortality may be prevented3.

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: 2016 EAS/ESC Guidelines for the management of dyslipidaemias and the European Guidelines on cardiovascular disease prevention in clinical practice.