European Heart Health Initiative

The European Society of Cardiology and the European Heart Network, with the support of the European Commission and the World Health Organization – Regional Office for Europe, have developed the first European Heart Health Charter designed to prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD) in Europe.

Each year, CVD kills over 4.35 million people in the 53 member states of the World Health Organization European Region and more than 2.0 million in the European Union (EU). It is responsible for 54% of all deaths in women across Europe and 43% of the deaths in men, killing more people than all cancers combined. The cost of CVD on the EU economy is estimated to be approximately 192 billion euros a year.

Yet cardiovascular disease is eminently preventable. The main risk factors are tobacco use, raised blood pressure and blood cholesterol. Other factors include overweight, obesity, diabetes mellitus, excessive alcohol consumption and psychosocial stress.

In 2004, the European Union Council Conclusions, drawn up under the Irish Presidency, called upon the European Commission and EU Member States to ensure that appropriate action be taken to address cardiovascular disease. In 2005, The Luxembourg Declaration further established an agreement among representatives from national Ministries of Health and representatives from European and national Cardiac Societies and Heart Foundations to initiate or strengthen comprehensive prevention plans and to ensure that effective measures, policies and interventions be in place in all European countries to fight CVD.

Building upon this, the European Society of Cardiology and the European Heart Network, along with all signatory organisations, now invite International and European organisations and national governments to adopt the European Heart Health Charter in order to promote cardiovascular health and support the 2000 Valentine's Declaration:

"Every child born in the new millennium has the right to live until the age of at least 65 without suffering from avoidable cardiovascular disease."

The aim of the European Heart Health Charter is to substantially reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in the European Union and the WHO European Region and to reduce inequities and inequalities in disease burden within and between countries.

The European Heart Health Charter was launched at EU level on 12 June 2007. Subsequent launches followed in 28 countries in Europe. For more information on the launches of the charter, please use this link.

More information on the European Heart Health Charter can be found on

You can find the European Heart Health Charter here.


  • European Heart Health Initiative

  • June 21st 2012
  • The origins of EHHIPublic health became a European Union (EU) policy objective with the adoption of the Maastricht Treaty in 1993 and the Amsterdam Treaty in 1997. Its Article 152 made a high level of human health a constituent part of EU policy making, to be accomplished through cooperation between its Member States and with EU action focused on the prevention of diseases through research and through health information and education. A European Commission public health framework programme, adopted in 1993, led to a variety of health programmes, inter alia on cancer, drugs and AIDS. Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) was covered to a limited extent by the action programme on health promotion, information, education and training.

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  • National action plans to increase physical activity among young people and children

  • December 15th 2003
  • This report sets out findings and recommendations from a review of European Heart Health Initaitve members' action plans to increase physical activity among children and young people. Please click here to read the full document.

  • Guidelines for Building National Alliances for the Prevention of CVD

  • September 01st 2003
  • Please find herewith the document prepared in the framework of the EHHI project on Guidelines for Building National Alliances for the Prevention of CVD. Please click here to read the full text.

  • Children and Young People; the importance of Physical Activity

  • December 01st 2001
  • It is known that physical activity is an important factor in maintaining a healthy heart. Practising healthy dietary habits and remaining smoke free are other factors that must be considered equally, but this paper is concerned only with physical activity. It sets out the nature of the problem and proposes realistic approaches to solving it. Everyone who has contributed to this paper is adamant on this point: raising levels of physical activity in the population is one key to managing the burden of CVD. An insufficient level of physical activity is an issue of concern to all European Union countries as well as to the candidate countries.

  • European Politicians on Health and Heart Survey 1999 - 2000

  • February 01st 2000
  • Preview The Parliamentary Survey (October 1999 - February 2000) was carried out by the European Heart Network and its members in the framework of the European Heart Health Initiative. The purpose of the survey was to get an overview of European politicians' knowledge of the burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and their understanding of their role in providing a political environment conducive to the prevention of CVD. The table of contents include the methodology and main conclusions of the survey and is available here.

  • The case for a European Heart Health Initiative

  • February 28th 1997
  • In spite of a widespread belief that cardiovascular diseases (CVD) have been conquered, CVD remains the number one cause of death in Europe, taking more lives than all other causes combined. Of the approximately 1.5 million who die each year from CVD, 15% die before reaching the age of 65. For every person who dies each year of CVD, many more are suffering, either under medical care or living at reduced capacity. The full document can be downloaded here.