Integrated prevention of cardiovascular disease: current and future perspectives
It is widely believed that e-Health will play an increasingly important role in shaping healthcare systems in the twentyfirst century. The raising burden of chronic diseases and the potential of e-Health in improving the quality and safety of preventive health services make e-Health a great opportunity to apply to widespread preventive intervention, particularly in the early diagnosis of atherosclerosis and the prevention of cardio- and cerebro-vascular diseases and cancers. The use of the Internet to deliver web-based interventions for patients’ education and for knowledge sharing is increasing rapidly, with an improvement in some outcomes (increased exercise time, increased knowledge of nutritional status, increased participation in healthcare programs). Moreover, a recent EU report indicates that e-Health could represent the third pillar of the health market, along with drugs and medical devices, and could rapidly grow to more than €20 billion, perhaps reaching the current €200 billion of sales in the drug market and €64 billion in medical devices. However, initiatives in this growing market have been very fragmented and their results are still controversial; the European Court of Auditors has recently recommended a more careful analysis of health progras financed from the EU budget, claiming that most projects in this field have lacked a strong design, a clear definition of scopes, and the demonstration of efficacy and sustainability.