As the European Union edges toward parliamentary elections, patient advocates have a message for candidates: Prioritize heart health.
As outlined in a recently released manifesto from the European Heart Network, a Brussels-based alliance of foundations and associations dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke, Members of the European Parliament have the opportunity to support investment in cardiovascular research. They also could unify across party lines to create a coherent strategy to manage and prevent cardiovascular disease – by raising awareness of risk factors such as poor diet, obesity and high cholesterol.
So if politicians want to win over voters, they might start by helping them address avoidable cardiovascular disease.
Pledging to improve cardiovascular health allows would-be MEPs to make an impact in at least three ways, the European Heart Network points out:
It would help the people of Europe. Cardiovascular disease kills 1.8 million people in the EU each year. Members of Parliament can help by instituting policies that foster a healthy environment and encourage healthy lifestyles.
It would encourage economic prosperity. Reducing cardiovascular disease and related deaths can ensure the EU a healthy, prosperous workforce. It can also reduce the €210 billion annual impact of cardiovascular disease on the EU economy.
It can appeal to voters. There are 49 million people in the EU with cardiovascular disease – a population the size of Spain or Poland, the European Heart Network points out. These people feel the impact of their disease on family, work and social life. If candidates want to pursue voters’ best interests, they can start by making heart patients’ priorities their own priorities.
Families living in the EU who face cardiovascular disease would be well served if their future politicians recognized the importance of tackling heart health – and made the issue visible in the 2019 parliamentary campaigns.