There are significant gaps between evidence-based measures for secondary prevention and actual practice. Most European countries lack a comprehensive national action plan on cardio-vascular disease (CVD) with targets for secondary prevention of CVD. These are some key findings from the study published by the Health Consumer Powerhouse (HCP) August 26, 2017 at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Barcelona. The study is an extension of the 2016 Euro Heart Index (EHI), focussing on secondary prevention of CVD. Sweden tops the ranking of the 31 countries included, scoring 956 points out of a maximum 1000, followed by France at 911 points (champions of the full Euro Heart Index 2016).
General conclusions from the Secondary Prevention Study:
- There is a need to understand the specifics of secondary prevention vs. disease prevention for the general population, outside cardiologist professional circles: it is essential to increase awareness about secondary prevention among primary physicians, people working in national bodies and policy makers.
- Most European countries lack a comprehensive national CVD action plan with targets for secondary prevention of CVD.
- There are significant gaps between evidence-based measures for secondary prevention and actual practice.
- Heart conditions are chronic and frequently associated with long-term patterns of unhealthy lifestyles. Patient benefits are not necessarily attained through advanced interventions and the most sophisticated drugs. Regular follow ups and patient education to teach patients and families how to manage the situation can improve outcomes, life styles, reduce fear and depression and improve medication compliance.
- Systematic gathering of quality data on cardiac care is essential to improve outcomes.
“The study reveals a highly unequal access to cardiac rehabilitation around Europe and between cities and rural areas. The focus on outpatient care should be increased to reach all patients. Assuring timely access to quality rehabilitation for all those who need it, or follow ups for those who do not, should be top priorities for secondary prevention”, says Dr. Beatriz Cebolla, Project Director of the Euro Heart Index.
Professor Arne Björnberg, the HCP Chairman, explains the larger picture: “In heart care, there is a remarkable lack of a joint pan-European standard how to treat patients. The Swedish top position is very much due to a strong tradition of healthcare quality registries, in this case manifest by the very solid Swedeheart registry, supporting a national standard. More consistent deployment of inexpensive generic drug therapies such as statins and clopidogrel would save thousands of lives!”
The report on the Secondary Prevention extension is freely available on
Full EHI report with data and methodology explained, matrix and media releases are available on: