Because we can’t afford not to - Let’s make a joint health check for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes happen
CVD and diabetes stakeholders are calling on EU Member States and Institutions to introduce joint cardiovascular and diabetes health checks at primary care level, on the basis of existing scientific evidence.
Between 28 February and 2 March policymakers, experts, researchers, patients and industry representatives will gather in the European Parliament to discuss the importance of early diagnosis to reduce preventable and premature mortality and explore key policy recommendations to make joint cardiovascular and diabetes health checks a reality.
Cardiovascular diseases and diabetes are leading causes of death globally. In the EU, more than 60 million people are currently living with cardiovascular diseases and 1 in 3 adults live with undiagnosed diabetes and do not receive any treatment. Improving population lifestyle choices is not enough to tackle the burden of CVD and Type 2 diabetes (T2D). Early detection of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes is crucial to diagnose people with CVD or T2D as early as possible to prevent serious life-threatening complications and save downstream costs. Currently over 1 in 3 adults with diabetes are undiagnosed, and between 20 and 40% of heart attacks occur in people previously undiagnosed with cardiovascular disease.
Targeted joint cardiovascular and diabetes health checks at primary care level would therefore be a quick and inexpensive way to improve early diagnosis. Given the interlinks between CVD and diabetes, joint health checks based on common risk factors for both co-morbidities are a sensible and cost-effective option to screen individuals identified as at high-risk of developing CVD and T2D according to the latest scientific guidelines,.
Building on the momentum created by the EU Healthier Together Initiative and the new diabetes resolution recently adopted by the EU Parliament stakeholders are calling for renewed political commitment and support by policymakers at EU and national level to make cardiovascular and diabetes health checks a reality. Based on the available scientific evidence, the cardiovascular and diabetes communities are coming together to put forward a set of key policy recommendations to EU Member States and Institutions:
- Implement targeted joint cardiovascular and diabetes health checks at primary care level based on common risk factors for both co-morbidities – such as high BMI, high blood pressure, tobacco use, high blood glucose and high LDL cholesterol.
- In addition, include the assessment of other relevant risk factors that can also modify the calculated risk and that can be assessed by measuring the creatinine and ACR levels, and by conducting a stethoscope check and physical exam.
- Maintain and strengthen, as appropriate, those actions and policies towards a health promotion strategy which include cardiovascular and diabetes health checks that aim to increase cost-efficiency, maximize health benefits and minimize harm.
- Adopt Council Conclusions that call Member States to implement joint cardiovascular and diabetes health checks.
The event at the European Parliament, hosted by MEP Ujhelyi (S&D, HU) and jointly organised by IDF Europe, EUDF, EHN and EFPIA, represents a great opportunity to foster further discussions and build political consensus to support harmonised action towards the reduction of preventable and premature mortality due to cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
 To identify people at risk of developing diabetes, the Finnish Diabetes Risk Score (FINDRISC) can be used to predict the 10-year risk for developing type 2 diabetes. FINDRISC uses age, BMI, physical activity, vegetable & fruit intake, medical treatment of hypertension, history of hyperglycemia and family history to determine risk of developing diabetes. Depending on the score, further investigations such as the measurement of HbA1c are needed.
 A systematic global CVD risk assessment is recommended in individuals with any major vascular risk factor i.e. family history of premature CVD, FH, CVD risk factors such as smoking, arterial hypertension, diabetes, raised lipid level, obesity, or comorbidities increasing CVD risk.