A new study has highlighted a changing pattern of cardiovascular mortality within Europe, and shows that while cardiovascular mortality rates are decreasing in general, Eastern and Middle European countries have the highest mortality.
The study, conducted by a group led by Dr Jacqueline Müller-Nordhorn (Charité University Medical Centre, Berlin, Germany), was published online on 5th February 2008 in the European Heart Journal.
Using data from the European and national statistics offices, the authors calculated age-standardised mortality rates for ischaemic heart disease and cerebrovascular disease.
They found a clear north-east to south-west gradient in mortality from cardiovascular disease. For cerebrovascular disease, however, the pattern is less clear, with the lowest mortality in the centre of Western Europe including France, northern Italy and Spain, and higher mortality rates seen in Central and Eastern Europe and some countries further south such as Greece, Portugal, and certain regions in Southern Spain and Italy.
They note that mortality from both cardiovacsular and cerebrovascular disease has been decreasing in most West European countries over the last decades. In contrast, in most Central and East European countries, cardiovascular mortality increased during the 1970s and 1980s and started to decline in the early to mid-1990s, but is still considerably higher than in Western Europe. “Although most Central and East European countries appear to have reached their peak in cardiovascular mortality, the majority of them can clearly still be classified as high-risk countries,” the researchers write.
They add that analysis of regional variation in cardiovascular mortality is important for the classification of countries into high- and low-risk countries and the recommendations provided by current guidelines. “For example, it may be more appropriate and practical to generallyclassify West European countries as low-risk countries and Central and East European countries as high-risk countries. Otherwise, there may be an overestimation of current cardiovascular risk in certain populations leading to unnecessary therapies and costs”, they say.