Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine and Therapeutics

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Cardiovascular diseases in times of economic crisis: New challenges for medical and community research

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of non-communicable morbidity and mortality among developed and developing countries. It is no longer just a health issue, but also represents a major economic burden on health care systems in terms of direct and indirect costs. Early experience from the most affected countries by the ongoing economic crisis (EC) show that the new reality of austerity measures has negative effects on mental health, on some communicable and non-communicable diseases and access to care. Moreover, the available data on cardiovascular mortality and morbidity and related risk factors raise serious concerns about future trends in CVD burden. It is commonly believed that increased levels of psychosocial stress -induced by job loss, uncertainty and decline in financial resources- constitute probably the main reason why the cardiovascular health might deteriorate in times of economic hardship. To mitigate the crisis’ adverse effects it is important to maintain access to good-quality healthcare, improve prevention strategies and control of risk factors at individual and population level. On the other side, the prompt response to the crisis situation needs an early warning information system based on surveillance and monitoring for priority health problems including CVDs. In addition, further research regarding the precise role and its implication for practice of psychosocial stress and other potential players in the interaction between the EC and CVDs is needed.

Author(s): Aristofanis Gikas