Surprisingly for many, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is Europe’s leading cause of death – not cancer, as many people would assume. Last year, over 60 million people in the EU – more than the population of Italy – were living with CVD.
While there has been some progress in understanding the prevention and treatment needs for CVD, it often does not receive the attention it duly deserves. As an industry, we have a responsibility to continue to shine a spotlight on this critical health issue and drive innovation that can protect lives.
There is no one answer to this question. The causes and risk factors for CVD are many and highly varied, as reflected in clinical guidelines. The recent updates for the prevention of CVD from the European Society of Cardiology now include direction to minimise the risk of cardiovascular (CV) events through a diverse range of management strategies that go beyond the tradition of diet and lifestyle management. Such topics include measurement of frailty, psychosocial factors, goals for lipid levels, blood pressure, diabetes, air pollution and body composition.
I feel certain misunderstandings of CVD contribute to the unacceptable levels of mortality we see across Europe. There is a perception that CVD is a condition that affects only older generations which is simply not true. This adds to the vast numbers of people with undetected CV risk factors, meaning that when they finally have an event, it is more serious than it would have been if they had identified and managed the risks at an earlier stage.
To change the impact of CVD, we must collaborate as a united community to find solutions for patients. Our role within the industry allows us to support open dialogues between healthcare practitioners, patient groups, governing bodies and the scientific community so that we can, together, lessen the impact of CVD.
“I feel certain misunderstandings of CVD contribute to the unacceptable levels of mortality we see across Europe. There is a perception that CVD is a condition that affects only older generations which is simply not true”
We know that patients with diagnosed CVD are likely to have an increased risk of death and experience more severe COVID-19 symptoms. However, from my perspective, the biggest impact of COVID-19 has been the dramatic reduction in cardiovascular healthcare utilisation, which has fallen by around a third since the start of the pandemic.
This means that people are not being diagnosed and remain at high risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke. This is leading us to a surge in serious CV events and deaths across Europe, which could have been prevented or delayed.
Throughout the early phases of the pandemic, access to medical care was very restricted as services were rightly redirected to care for patients with COVID-19. However, as access to medical services is slowly restored, we cannot continue to look at the challenges of CVD through the same lens as we did pre-pandemic. Instead, we must listen to the needs of the clinical community to help evolve care pathways and ensure prevention is a core focus.
The short answer is, we don’t know yet. Whilst we know that there is a correlation between COVID-19 and CVD, it is difficult for us to predict the long-term consequences.
What we can do, though, is work with healthcare professionals and industry peers to address the immediate issues ahead of us and deepen our understanding of the effects of COVID-19. We will continue to work closely with experts to address any long-lasting consequences on CV health.
We’ve been active in the CV landscape in Europe for more than 20 years – with over 120 years of scientific expertise and corporate origins in Japan. CV health is a key part of our business, and devoting our energy to improving patient outcomes in CVD is engrained in the foundations of our organisation.
We also understand that no one can find a solution alone. That’s why we partner with professional bodies and companies where we can combine our expertise and bring much-needed treatments to patients.
Due to the high prevalence of CVD in Europe, most of us will know somebody affected by CVD at some point in our life. We understand that the impact of the disease is felt not only by patients, but also by their loved ones and those who treat them.
Our mantra of ‘caring for every heartbeat’ drives us and I see it living every day through my colleagues. From furthering our understanding of CV science, through improving access to treatments and preventative support, to ensuring we understand the real patient experience – we know that the work we do supports so many people.
“Our mantra of ‘caring for every heartbeat’ drives us and I see it living every day through my colleagues”
To truly understand the needs of patients, we must know their lived experiences and those of the healthcare professionals that treat them. On way that we proactively seek this is through our investment in clinical studies that help to investigate the current challenges related to routine patient care.
We have several real-world evidence clinical trials that help us better understand what it is like to live with CVD. The SANTORINI study, for example, looks at the effectiveness of treatment and management systems in Europe for people with high cholesterol. Insights from studies such as SANTORINI and ongoing registries help shape our business decisions and inform our work every day.
Our patient Hackathon, CardioXplore, is another example. By opening our platforms to patients and healthcare professionals, we have been able to facilitate the sharing of insights and ideas. Our aim is that what we learn will lead to the development of concrete, deliverable solutions to help improve CVD care.
We have more than two decades of experience in CV health in Europe. During that time, more than 40 million patients across Europe have received our therapies across a range of conditions. We have a fantastic expertise in bringing treatments to market for the benefit of those who need them, which is the fundamental reason I love my job.
We truly believe we need to take a patient-centric approach to addressing the CVD burden. We must view patients as the people they are, not just in terms of their condition.
Through this holistic approach, we can support and partner with the medical community to look beyond the immediate CV health concerns and identify additional considerations unique to the patient, such as co-morbidities and polypharmacy. Through this approach, we work to support them to make informed clinical decisions that ultimately improve outcomes.
I find our CardioXplore initiative really exciting. It’s a reflection of our drive to bring together expertise and co-create solutions that truly deliver for patients and healthcare professionals to support them in addressing the unmet needs in CV care.
Self-empowerment, the right supporting tools, and enhanced motivation are, we believe, at the core of helping to prevent CV events for people who are at-risk. We recently conducted the two-day CardioXplore patient hackathon with multidisciplinary teams. The objective was to collaboratively explore entirely new approaches to CV care and generate ideas.
Our newly established Digital Innovation Hub is now exploring a selection of the most innovative ideas and creating plans to bring them to life. Ultimately, our goal is to help create viable solutions that can enhance care across Europe.
“Self-empowerment, the right supporting tools, and enhanced motivation are, we believe, at the core of helping to prevent CV events for people who are at-risk”
As we look ahead, I believe that our holistic approach to CVD management and our close collaboration with the medical community will continue to positively impact the standard of patient care in this space.
By truly understanding the needs of healthcare partners and working closely with payors, innovators, and other scientific and pharmaceutical organisations, we can all play our part in improving the CV ecosystem and ultimately driving innovation that will change patients’ lives.
This article is sponsored by Daiichi Sankyo Europe.
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Benoit Creveau is currently head of Commercial Operations within the Specialty Business Unit at Daiichi-Sankyo Europe. In this role, Benoit is responsible for a group which sets the commercial strategy and implementation roadmap for our specialty portfolio.
DS specialty group’s ambition is to deliver the best customer experience by tirelessly supporting healthcare professionals to make the right decisions for patients. Benoit holds a postgraduate program from ESCP Business School, he started his career with Bristol Myers Squibb and then joined Daiichi-Sankyo Europe where he held different marketing and commercial roles in cardiovascular and oncology.
Daiichi Sankyo is dedicated to creating new modalities and innovative medicines by leveraging our world-class science and technology for our purpose “to contribute to the enrichment of quality of life around the world.” In addition to our current portfolio of medicines for cancer and cardiovascular disease, Daiichi Sankyo is primarily focused on developing novel therapies for people with cancer as well as other diseases with high unmet medical needs. With more than 100 years of scientific expertise and a presence in more than 20 countries, Daiichi Sankyo and its 16,000 employees around the world draw upon a rich legacy of innovation to realize our 2030 Vision to become an “Innovative Global Healthcare Company Contributing to the Sustainable Development of Society.”