Slovenia celebrates progress in preventing cardiovascular diseases

Regional Institute of Public Health Ljubljana

Slovenia’s Director General of Public Health Directorate Mojca Gobec (left) with Jožica Maučec Zakotnik, Head of Centre for the Promotion of Health and Management of Chronic Diseases, at the World Health Day event

The number of deaths from all types of cardiovascular diseases in Slovenia has halved in the last 20 years, from 447 deaths per 100 000 people in 1991 to 218 in 2010.  The National Institute of Public Health reports that since 2002, the number of deaths from these diseases had reduced by about 1200 persons annually. Experts attribute about 600 saved lives to successful prevention programmes.

This remarkable success was presented at a national event organized on the occasion of World Health Day. The event was co-organized by the Ministry of Health, National Institute of Public Health, Regional Institute of Public Health and WHO Country Office in Slovenia.

The theme for World Health Day in 2013 is high blood pressure, also known as raised blood pressure or hypertension. It increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure and if left uncontrolled, high blood pressure can also cause blindness, irregular heartbeat and heart failure.

World Health Day was also observed across Slovenia by regional public health institutes, health care centres, schools and non-governmental organizations.

Initiatives for preventing cardiovascular diseases

Slovenia’s national initiatives for promoting healthy lifestyle and control of high blood pressure include:

  1. a national action plan for 2010-2020, to reduce salt intake in Slovenians’ diet;
  2. a national nutritional policy programme;
  3. a national health-enhancing physical activity programme 2007–2012; and
  4. strict alcohol and anti-tobacco legislation adopted and enforced since 2003 and 2007.

In 2002 Slovenia launched the National Programme for Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Diseases. Since then preventive examination has been carried out for more than 900 000 people in general or family medicine clinics. The examination is available free of charge to men of 35-65 years and women of 45-70 years.

The national programme consists of two elementary parts:

  • implementing screening procedures for cardiovascular risk at general or family doctor clinics – preventive examination and treatment if indicated;
  • implementing non-pharmacological treatment at preventative (health education) centres – organizing workshops on changing lifestyles.

Preventive examinations are repeated every five years. High-risk persons with a 10-year cardiovascular risk above 20% repeat the examination each year.