Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the leading cause of mortality in the European Union causing over 1.8 million deaths per year (EHN Cardiovascular Disease Statistics) as well as a great loss in potential years of life. Prevention is increasingly playing a key role in reducing mortality linked to CVD.

It is sufficient to consider how mortality rates due to coronary artery disease (CAD) has decreased compared to that of the ‘80s, especially in high-income countries. Thanks to preventive measures, such as effective tobacco control legislation and strategies, nowadays in many European countries CAD rates have more than halved compared to those of the ‘80s.

The project CARDIO 50: Organized cardiovascular risk screening programme for active prevention in fifty-year-olds ("Cardio 50") was developed and coordinated by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention of the Veneto Region of Italy, involving 22 Local Health Authorities from 11 Italian regions.

The objectives of CARDIO 50 were to estimate cardiovascular risk among the 50 years old population, identify persons with inadequate lifestyles, new cases of hypertension, hyperglycemia and hypercholesterolemia, activate an integrated model of assistance to help modify or reduce risk factors among healthy subjects, promote interventions to change unhealthy lifestyles and to increase knowledge and perceptions of CVD risks among the general population.

The priorities of the Work Programme for 2018 of the 3rd Health Programme, in the specific area of promotion of good health and prevention of non-communicable diseases, included the transfer and/or scaling up of existing good and best practices. In this framework, the Steering Group on Promotion and Prevention selected “CARDIO 50″ as the best practice to transfer to other participating Member States.