Question: Action for Stroke Prevention Alliance
Each year cardiovascular diseases (CVD) cause over 4.3 million deaths in Europe and over 2 million deaths in the European Union (EU). CVD leads to nearly half of all deaths in Europe (48 %) and in the EU (42 %)(1).
The most common cardiovascular disorder after heart disease is stroke. According to the WHO, 9.6 million people in Europe survive a stroke every year(2). The consequences of a stroke can devastate not only the quality of life of patients, but also that of families and carers. Furthermore, the burden of stroke on the European economy is estimated at a staggering EUR 38 billion per annum, accounting for 2‑3 % of total healthcare expenditure in the EU(3).
On 12 July 2007, the European Parliament adopted a Motion for a Resolution on Action to tackle Cardiovascular Disease (P6_TA(2007)0346). In this Resolution, the European Parliament called on the Commission to propose a Recommendation on cardiovascular disease and on early identification of high-risk individuals and prevention strategies in Europe. However, this Resolution did not include any specific reference to stroke.
1. We are now three years down the road and the Commission still has not made any progress towards an EU Recommendation on CVD. Given the fact that CVD is considered as being one of the biggest killers in Europe, is the Commission willing to give it as much attention as it has been giving to other diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s?
2. How is the Commission planning to ensure that the prevention of CVD becomes a priority across the EU? Does the Commission intend to take measures in order to improve the information provided and to raise EU citizens' awareness on this topic?
3. Will the Commission include stroke prevention in its future EU strategy to tackle CVD?
4. What are the research projects funded under the FP7 that focus on stroke prevention and cardiovascular diseases, what is their funding and what percentage of the total research funding on health-related issues does it represent?
(1) Cost of illness study by researchers at the Health Economics Research Centre, Department of Public Health, University of Oxford, carried out for the year 2006, and costs calculated for individual Member States and the EU as a whole. www.heartstats.org/eucosts
(2) World Health Organisation. The global burden of disease: 2004 update — http://www.who.int/healthinfo/global_burden_disease/2004_report_update/en/index.html
(3) Allender S, Scarborough P, Peto V et al. European Cardiovascular Disease Statistics 2008 Edition — http://www.heartstats.org/uploads/documents%5Cproof30NOV2007.pdf
Answer given by Mr Dalli on behalf of the Commission
The Commission supports Member States' efforts to address cardiovascular diseases through a range of actions on the main causes of these diseases, such as smoking, nutrition, physical activity and alcohol. However, at this stage, the Commission does not plan to develop a specific EU strategy against cardiovascular diseases.
To encourage the adoption of good practice in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, the Commission is supporting the European Heart Health Charter, which calls for the implementation of comprehensive health strategies and policies that promote cardiovascular health and prevent cardiovascular diseases(1). The Commission is also developing comparable indicators for cardiovascular diseases monitoring, and cardiovascular mortality comparable data. In addition, the Commission supports awareness raising activities about cardiovascular diseases.
At European level, research on stroke prevention as well as other cardiovascular diseases is one of the health-related priority areas under the EU 7th Framework Programme for Research (2007‑13)(2).
The Commission is currently supporting 25 research projects with an EU contribution of over EUR 130 million in 2007‑10(3). Such projects will contribute to better diagnostic methods and algorithms, new treatments, better care and prevention strategies for cardiovascular diseases.
Of these, EUR 21 million is specifically devoted to support research on stroke and its prevention through the European Stroke Network, a common effort undertaken by the EUSTROKE and ARISE projects(4). This initiative tackles issues such as the development of stroke prevention approaches, the improvement of the safety of existing therapies, the development of therapies, and the study of neuroprotection mechanisms.
(4) EUSTROKE (European Stroke Research Network, http://www.eustroke.com/); European Stroke Network (http://www.europeanstrokenetwork.info/); ARISE (http://www.arise-europe.net/index-preview.php).