Background. Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) cause 1.8 million premature (<75 years) death annually in Europe. The majority of these deaths are preventable with the most efficient and cost-effective approach being on the population level. The aim of this position paper is to assist authorities in selecting the most adequate management strategies to prevent CVD. Design and methods. Experts reviewed and summarized the published evidence on the major modifiable CVD risk factors: food, physical inactivity, smoking, and alcohol. Population-based preventive strategies focus on fiscal measures (e.g. taxation), national and regional policies (e.g. smoke-free legislation), and environmental changes (e.g. availability of alcohol). Results. Food is a complex area, but several strategies can be effective in increasing fruit and vegetables and lowering intake of salt, saturated fat, trans-fats, and free sugars. Tobacco and alcohol can be regulated mainly by fiscal measures and national policies, but local availability also plays a role. Changes in national policies and the built environment will integrate physical activity into daily life. Conclusion. Societal changes and commercial influences have led to the present unhealthy environment, in which default option in lifestyle increases CVD risk. A challenge for both central and local authorities is, therefore, to ensure healthier defaults. This position paper summarizes the evidence and recommends a number of structural strategies at international, national, and regional levels that in combination can substantially reduce CVD.

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Giornale Italiano di Cardiologia
Erasmus University Rotterdam

Jorgensen, T., Capewell, S., Prescott, E., Allender, S., Sans, S., Zdrojewski, T., … Vanuzzo, D. (2013). Changes at the population level to promote cardiovascular health. Giornale Italiano di Cardiologia, 14(5), 393–403. Retrieved from