EVENT REPORT Equal Hearts: Addressing Cardiovascular Health Disparities in Europe

On October 23, 2022, a significant event on cardiovascular health disparities in Europe was hosted by MEP Brando Benifei at the European Parliament. The discussion, supported by the EU Structural Heart Disease Coalition, highlighted the urgent need to address inequalities in cardiovascular care. Key points included the importance of prioritising heart health on both European and national agendas, the role of artificial intelligence in early detection and prevention of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), and the launch of the EU SHD Coalition Manifesto.

Presenters emphasized the findings of the International Longevity Center report, revealing significant disparities in the detection and treatment of structural heart disease (SHD) across Europe as grave inequalities were identified based on age, socio-economic status, gender, ethnicity, and geographical location. The presenters advocated for comprehensive data collection, inclusive clinical trials, and awareness campaigns to reduce these disparities.

Moreover, cardiologists stressed the impact of SHD detection on patient life and mortality, calling for a holistic approach to secondary prevention. The need for tailored public health strategies considering cultural, economic, and social aspects was highlighted, along with cooperation with existing projects and stakeholders.

Patient involvement in policy development was also emphasized, with a call for the development of an EU CV Health plan. The importance of screening capacities to address inequalities and the interconnectedness of CVDs with other non-communicable diseases, like diabetes, was underscored.

Furthermore, the event showcased successful initiatives focusing on tackling cardiovascular inequalities in various countries, such as the Spanish Cardiovascular Health Strategy and innovative projects like the Farnborough Community Pharmacy Digital Stethoscope Pilot Project in the UK. These initiatives demonstrated the potential of involving non-clinical personnel, like pharmacists, in early CVD detection using digital technologies and AI.

In conclusion, participants stressed the need for collective efforts to combat the social and economic burden of cardiovascular diseases. The event served as a platform to identify actionable steps, including the development of tailored policies, increased patient involvement, and the use of innovative technologies to address cardiovascular health disparities in Europe. Link