Active Citizenship Network organized on the 29th of September 2021 a webinar entitled “Promoting civic information to better address the collateral damage of COVID-19 on cardiovascular disease”. The event explored the evidences and experiences of the impact of COVID19 on patients with CVDs, gathering experts and policy makers from all over Europe.

After a brief introduction by Jacqueline Bowman and Mariano Votta, who introduced the panelists and the topics covered during the event, MEP Kateřina Konečná, member of the MEPs Interest Group “European Patients’ Rights & CrossBorder Healthcare”, gave a presentation on the difficulties that the pandemic has created for those suffering from non-communicable diseases; it has led especially to a weakening of cardiovascular prevention, which was already weak before the pandemic. 

Donata Meroni, from DG SANTE of the European Commission, focused on the consequence that Covid has in people with comorbidities and, in particular heart conditions. The Commission is taking a holistic approach, combining efforts to strengthen health systems. Prevention and communication are both essential, as is a comprehensive framework to address disease prevention.

Furthermore, fear of Covid-19 was also a key factor in poor patient prevention and care. Patients with diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, etc. were at increased risk, mainly due to the lack of proper prevention devices at the beginning of the pandemic. This caused increased the fear, Professor Christiaan Vrints pointed out, especially of places like hospitals, preventing proper care or preventive measures from being provided to patients already at risk. There was a decrease in hospitalizations and a worsening of outcome of patients with heart attack.

Other guests then provided a valuable contribution to the webinar, sharing experiences from across Europe. Specifically, Daniela Quaggia from ACN presented the European project “Increasing consciousness and access to treatment, reducing the burden of cardiovascular diseases across Europe”. Finally, Panka Georgieva, Association of Patients with Cardiovascular Diseases, shared with the audience the initiatives carried out during the pandemic, consisting of online psychological consultations during the pandemic (for CVDs patients), publication of articles and information and awareness raising activities for journalists during the pandemic.

The panel was followed by a fruitful moment of exchange, with questions from the audience and answers from the speakers of the event. The event concluded with the shared opinion that the covid19 pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated an extremely important issue such as cardiovascular prevention, and all present agreed on the need to involve European policy makers, NGOs and citizens themselves in order to develop a joint plan at European level with the ultimate goal of improving and making more resilient health systems and health across Europe.