Burden of Cardiovascular Disease

CVD is a leading cause of death in developed and developing countries1. Particularly coronary heart disease (CHD) and 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 year2.

In Europe, CVD accounts for 49% of all female deaths and 40% of all deaths in men2. The ESC estimates that coronary heart disease and stroke account for 82% of DALYs due to CVD in its member countries3.

As a consequence CVD is a major burden on healthcare budgets and costs the European economy €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 CVD2.


With adequate changes in lifestyle, most (premature) CVD mortality may be prevented1.

CVD risk factors

The causes of CVD are multifactorial with many directly linked to diet and lifestyle. The major risk factors include:4

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 exercise4,5,6.
For more detailed information on CVD risk factors please visit: EAS/ESC Guidelines for the management of dyslipidaemias and the European Guidelines on cardiovascular disease prevention in clinical practice.