A faltering pulse at the heart of the matter

In 2012 there were 1.9 million cardiovascular related deaths within the European Union and 4 million deaths in Europe with the higher rate of deaths to be found in the Central and Eastern European countries.  During June 2013, the European Society of Cardiology (ECS) released the results of their study comparing death from a cardiac event between the 1980s and the present. At a glance, the report appears to make happy reading.  On average, the rate of heart disease related deaths have halved during that period within the European Union countries. This rate applies to both sexes as well as most age groups.

Dr Melanie Nichols, a Research Associate from the British Heart foundation Health Promotional Research Groups and her colleagues in the Oxford Research Group have looked at trends in death from coronary heart disease between 1980 and 2009 in both sexes and four age groups: under 45, 45-54, 55-64 and 65 years and over [1].

Lack of comparable data in Europe
One of the problems that Dr Nichols and her group have faced in assessing the data is the differences in the way that countries record and code data. That Europe suffers from a lack of data and comparable data is evident when reading the European Cardiovascular Disease Statistics published by the European Heart Network [2]. This is especially true for incidence rates, rates of surgical procedures as well as effects of regional diets etc. To better serve assessments such as this report, the European Union has the task of developing standard methods for collecting information and procedures for calibration of locally appropriate methods and questionnaires.

Nevertheless, while working within these constraints, Dr Nichols and colleagues found that: