The impact of nutrition and lifestyle on cardiovascular health will be key elements discussed by health professionals during EuroPrevent 2018 in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in April. EuroPrevent is the annual congress of the European Association of Preventive Cardiology (EAPC), a branch of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). This year's event will be held from 19 to 21 April at Cankarjev dom Culture and Congress Centre in Ljubljana. The full scientific programme is available here.
The ESC's prevention congress brings together more than 1,200 healthcare professionals, scientists and policymakers from over 40 countries to discuss the latest evidence on heart health and how to implement it. The overall theme for the congress this year is 'Evidence-based cardiovascular prevention, a lifelong endeavor.'
"Prevention of cardiovascular disease starts in the womb and continues throughout life," noted chair of the congress scientific programme committee, Professor Jean-Paul Schmid. "There are positive actions we can take at all stages of life such as adopting a healthy diet, being physically active, and not smoking," he added.
From 2009 to 2014, cardiovascular disease accounted for over 3.8 million deaths each year, or 45% of all deaths across ESC member countries, and unhealthy diets are the biggest risk factor at population level. Experts at EuroPrevent 2018 will look at global initiatives to lower salt intake, how to prevent obesity and cardiovascular disease by reducing sugar intake, and the latest evidence on saturated fat. As one of the world's leading voices on cardiovascular science, the ESC has called for stronger regulations on food, including restrictions on marketing foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt to children.
With this year's EuroPrevent congress held in Slovenia, the country's Minister of Health, Marija Milojka Kolar Celarc also cited the importance of addressing heart health as a collective responsibility. "We are proud to host such an important gathering, which will provide further scientific evidence that foods high in fat, sugar and salt have a direct impact on cardiovascular disease," she said, "This knowledge from healthcare professionals needs to inform public policy interventions that have the power to shape the environment within which individuals make choices affecting their health." The European Union, she noted, is "Looking closely at the nexus of nutrition and health and the potential that food policy can have in providing public health safeguards."
Over the last 20 years, Slovenia has put in place a variety of CVD prevention measures at national and local levels, which include government policies and public campaigns to improve nutrition and encourage physical activity. Health promotion and education programmes are implemented at public health centers, at the workplace and in schools, among other places, aimed at fostering healthy lifestyles that will help to prevent CVD.
As well as looking at foods to avoid, EuroPrevent 2018 will include a session devoted to the role of nutraceuticals, such as red rice yeast, in cardiovascular protection.
On other prevention topics, leading experts will explain the relative impact of both genetics and lifestyle on the occurrence of cardiovascular disease and discuss how genetics influence the benefits of lifestyle interventions.
Two sessions will explore cardiovascular disease in women, including how women differ from men with regard to genetics, prevention, diagnosis, prognosis, and management. From 2009 to 2014 the number of deaths due to cardiovascular disease in ESC member countries was higher in women (2.1 million) than in men (1.7 million). Strategies to improve cardiovascular health in women will be discussed. Key opinion leaders will reveal whether men and women need different types of exercise, as well as how motivation and obstacles to exercise differ between sexes.
Sleep as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease will be examined in a dedicated session. The most up-to-date evidence will be presented on the risks of not getting enough sleep, sleep apnoea - a common problem in obese people - and how to improve the quality and duration of sleep.
There is scientific evidence for the cardiovascular benefits of practices such as tai chi, yoga, and sauna and the latest data will be presented at the congress, along with the pros and cons of using these methods to manage cardiovascular risk factors, including blood pressure.