Top European cardiologists are teaming up with the Council of the European Union to promote a new plan to tackle heart disease in the EU. The Council has approved the European society of cardiology's (ESC) 'Heart plan for Europe' and says cardiovascular disease is a 'major priority' for the Union. The plan, submitted to the Council by the Spanish government in the final meeting of its presidency, outlines specific objectives for the reduction of the disease in Europe. These include a reduction in cigarette smoking, blood cholesterol and blood pressure in the general population. Professor John Martin, a member of the ESC board and Professor of cardiovascular medicine at University College London, UK, is one of those spearheading the campaign. He said: 'Cardiovascular disease in Europe is equal in impact to the Black Death of the middle ages. But whilst the Black Death came and went in a few years, cardiovascular disease has been with us for at least a hundred years and is only getting worse.' The ESC is calling on the European Commission to take practical steps to improve cardiovascular health at European level. 'Although each country has to look after its own cardiovascular health, there are some issues which can only be seen and appropriately dealt with from a European perspective,' said Professor Martin. José Maria Cruz, president of the ESC, added: 'Although this declaration by the EU is a wonderful achievement, this is just the beginning. This work must continue through Denmark's Presidency of the Council of the EU, then on to Greece's, Italy's and beyond.' Mr Cruz added that better public information and continual medical education for doctors are also necessary.