Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) remains a major challenge in contemporary medicine, predominantly in the Western, 'developed' world. Socioeconomic development will also lead to a further increase in CVD in currently 'underdeveloped' regions. We therefore have to expect an increasing number of CVD cases due to higher life expectancy and an improvement of socioeconomic status particularly in Asia, Africa and South America, despite the efforts to fight CVD.
In the US and Europe some battles seem to have been won, although treatment of CVD costs in the region of 74 billion annually. An additional 106 billion must be estimated as additional costs from reduced productivity. This alone should - thinking of the commercial basis of the EU - be enough to support CVD prevention programmes. The rise of obesity, diabetes, smoking and fast food outlets are hazards. Tremendous efforts from the EU, governments, the cardiologic and other scientific societies, etc., will be of utmost necessity to popularise lifestyle changes encouraging an increase in the 'heart-prudent' behaviour of European populations.
The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) published (in accordance with other scientific European societies) the CVD-Prevention Guidelines 04, which were accepted by all 25 EU member countries in June 2004 as a basis to reduce CVD as much as possible in the future.
The ESC founded, together with the Union Européenne des Médicins Spécialistes - Cardiology Section (UEMS-CS), the representation of European cardiologists on EU-level boards, to harmonise postgraduate training (European Board for the Speciality of Cardiology - EBSC) and also continuous medical education (European Board for Accreditation in Cardiology - EBAC; www.ebac-cme.org). The 'core syllabus' (the learning framework in cardiology), the recently published 'core curriculum' (that will become the official formal education plan in the training of European cardiologists in 2006) and the Textbook in Cardiology (2005), are the upcoming major tools for European doctors treating patients with CVD.
Furthermore, the previously mentioned boards and societies have the major aim of harmonising the heterogeneous European health service structures, "to foster the development of cardiology and to establish standards of training for cardiologists and those who work in the field of cardiovascular disease". (ESC mission statement.)
This publication, Business Briefing: European Cardiology 2005, consists of articles written by distinguished and experienced authors in the field. Prevention in CVD is followed by the most recent diagnostic and therapeutic developments in cardiovascular (CV) medicine. Several chapters deal with heart failure, which also seems to be an increasing entity in CVD and is the end-stage of all CVD in patients reaching this period.
The industry has provided medical doctors with drugs and technical devices to serve patients. Cardiac resynchronisation therapy (CRT), defibrillators etc., have become promising tools for increased survival under different conditions. Chapters deal with this emerging field of device implantation and the surgical repair of CV impairments. Spectacular, non-invasive diagnostic imaging techniques using ultrasound, magnetic resonance (MR) and computed tomography (CT) are connected with invasive therapeutic strategies in coronary artery disease (CAD) to prolong and improve quality of life.
Business Briefing: European Cardiology 2005 reflects the main goal - to "improve the quality of life of the European population by reducing the impact of CVD". The main question of when today's medical panaceas, such as CVD, will be cured, remains. Prevention and CV genomics in combination with reparative, diagnostic and therapeutic strategies will lead us to the future.