WHO conference on cardiovascular diseases addresses difference in life expectancy between eastern and western Europe


Cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes, comprise almost half of all deaths in the WHO European Region, and contribute significantly to the differences in life expectancy between eastern and western Europe. People born in eastern Europe are almost 5 times more likely to die young due to a heart attack or stroke than those born in western Europe. Strengthening efforts to combat these diseases is essential to achieving the global goal of a 25% relative reduction in the overall mortality from noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) within Europe.

To this end, WHO/Europe organized the International Conference on Cardiovascular Diseases in St Petersburg, Russian Federation on 19–20 November 2015. This brought together over 100 participants including policy-makers and technical experts from 28 countries and internationally renowned speakers from Europe, China and the United States. Strong support at this landmark Conference was shown by high-level representation from the European Society of Cardiology, European Stroke Organisation, European Heart Network and Stroke Alliance for Europe.

The Conference covered 4 main themes:

  • prevention
  • cardio-metabolic risk assessment and management
  • acute care of heart attacks and stroke
  • secondary prevention and rehabilitation.

For each theme, there was an overview of what works, what is in place within Europe and what gaps need to be addressed. 17 countries shared experience on their achievements, as well as challenges still faced. Learning from the Conference will feed into the development of the next European NCD Action Plan 2016–2025, as well as the development of a collaborative effort between WHO and partner agencies to support countries in overcoming these challenges and meeting the global goal over the coming years.

This Conference was made possible by funding from the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation.