Coordinator of the National strategy for cardiovascular health of Spain Héctor Bueno (on the left) and president of the European Society of cardiology Franz Weidinger. Photo: Martin Kovář

Spain wasn’t focused on chronic patients. We needed new approach, says Bueno

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.

From left: CEO of the European Heart Network Birgit Beger, Coordinator of the National Cardiovascular Health Strategy of Spain Héctor Bueno, President of the European Society of Cardiology Franz Weidinger, Editor-in-Chief of Healthcare Daily Tomáš Cikrt, Michal Vrablík, President of the Czech Association of Preventive Cardiology and the Czech Society for Atherosclerosis, Donna Fitzsimons, Co-Chair of the Advocacy Committee of the European Society of Cardiology, Zlatko Fras, President of the Slovenian Society of Cardiology, and Klaudia Vivien Nagy from the Semmelweis University Heart and Vascular Centre in Hungary.

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.

Speaking Co-Chair of the Advocacy Committee of the European Society of Cardiology Donna Fitzsimons. Next to her is the President of the Slovenian Society of Cardiology Zlatko Fras.

“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.

Czech Health Minister Vlastimil Válek also spoke at the conference.

“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.

Nela Slivková

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.

First panel of the European Cardiology Conference.
Attendees during an informal networking at the conference.