The approval of the Spanish Cardiovascular Health Strategy in 2022 marked an important milestone in the country’s health policy. The comprehensive plan brings about a complete paradigm shift in the approach to cardiovascular health, targets early detection and enjoys strong support from Spanish politicians. This was highlighted by Héctor Bueno, coordinator of the Strategy, at the European Cardiology Conference held at IKEM in Prague, hosted by the Healthcare Daily.
The rapidly ageing European population is associated with a greater increase in age-related diseases. The so-called ‚bogeymen‘ of modern times include, in particular, the high mortality rate from cardiovascular diseases, both in European countries and worldwide. Moreover, these diseases represent a huge financial burden for European health systems.
According to the coordinator of the Spanish Cardiovascular Health Strategy, Héctor Bueno, the Spanish plan can serve as an inspiration for other European countries. „Despite the political changes that have taken place in my country, (our work) was not suppressed,” he said, reminding that creating cardiovascular strategy took years during which six different Health Ministers have taken office. “We were lucky that they wanted to do something about cardiovascular disease. But I told them it was too late and we have to focus on cardiovascular health,” Bueno said at the conference, stressing that the sustainability of any health system is not infinite.
“We had more older chronic patients with comorbidities but the system was mostly focused on acute care. The system was not focused on chronic patients. And they (politicians) accepted to change the focus on health. That was a major change,” he added.
On one boat
The new Spanish cardiovascular health strategy has been developed in collaboration with patient representatives, health professionals, scientific societies, researchers and communities. However, support from political circles was crucial in drawing up the comprehensive document.
“It is about vision. You need to have a shared vision of where you are going and you need to convince the decision makers that what you say is right. We were lucky that they accepted the policy change to move to cardiovascular health,” Bueno said. He also added that the Spanish plan targets education for children and families, regular physical activity and healthy lifestyles.
“The tradition was that the cardiologists dealt with cardiovascular disease – that is completely wrong from the modern view because when the patients come to us, it is too late. We have to change our narrow view of what is cardiovascular disease,” Bueno appealed to other professionals. He said European countries should strive to implement multidisciplinary healthcare, but that requires a deeper system change based on early prevention of chronic diseases.
Photo by Martin Kovář
The Healthcare Daily would like to thank the general partner of the conference, Novartis, and partners Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, General Health Insurance Company, RBP Health Insurance Company, Ministry of the Interior Public Health Insurance Fund and Amgen for their support.