Heart Disease & COVID-19 Are a Dangerous Mix for EU Patients

The COVID-19 pandemic is making cardiovascular disease still more deadly for patients, a recent statement from Members of the European Parliament confirms.

Disease Severity

The statement, released by the MEP Heart Group, details how COVID-19 has impacted the lives of EU citizens living with heart disease.  As the data make clear, pre-existing cardiovascular conditions are predictors of both COVID-19 severity and mortality:

  • 15-40% of COVID-19 patients had a history of cardiac disease
  • 10-30% showed laboratory signs of cardiac injury and cardiovascular involvement, associated with disease severity.

Mortality Rates

Cardiovascular patients are also much more likely to die from COVID-19, the statement noted.

For example, the COVID-19 fatality rate in China was less than 1% for patients with no comorbidities but more than 10% for patients with cardiovascular disease, the statement explained.  Those values are likely to be higher in Europe because of the older age of the population.

Similarly, a study in Northern Italy has reported significantly higher mortality for cardiac patients (35.8%) compared with non-cardiac patients (15.2%). 

Steps Forward

The MEP statement follows a January paper from the European Heart Network on strategies for early identification of people at high risk for developing cardiovascular disease. The paper called on the EU and member states to prioritise cardiovascular health, calling it “crucial for making our healthcare systems more resilient.”

As the MEP Heart Group’s efforts illustrate, policymakers are responding. Among the MEP’s recommendations were to:

  • Resume cardiovascular clinical activity
  • Develop separate treatment pathways to protect cardiovascular disease patients from virus infection
  • Support research into digital health technologies for cardiovascular prevention, management and delivery of care.

About 60 million Europeans have cardiovascular disease, with more than half of European men and women living with raised cholesterol.  Cardiovascular disease accounts for nearly one in every two deaths in Europe.

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