The prevalence of smoking and obesity has remained the same over the course of two surveys Getty

Although the number of people who smoke is roughly staying the same, fewer of them are inclined to quit the habit, according to a new survey. Euroaspire surveys presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2015 shows that 17% of people aged 50 and under are smokers, but those who had no intention of quitting rose to 34% – up from 23% in 2008.

Professor Kornelia Kotseva, chair of the Euroaspire steering committee and senior clinical research fellow at Imperial College London, UK, said: "The highest levels of smoking are still in the youngest patients who have the most to gain from quitting. But the use of pharmacotherapy for smoking cessation remained very low over the seven years so more emphasis is needed in this area."

The first set of Euroaspire surveys were carried out between 2006 and 2008 in five European countries – Bulgaria, Croatia, Poland, Romania and the UK. These were then followed up in 2014 and 2015. "We wanted to see whether there had been any change in lifestyles or risk factors between the two surveys and whether the practice of preventive cardiology in patients at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease had improved over time," Kotseva explained.

The survey also noted that there was no change in the prevalence of overweight individuals – remaining at 82%, and obesity drop by just 1% to 43%. However, less than one in five of the 5,890 participants said that they partook in vigorous physical activity.

"Lifestyle trends are not moving in the right direction," said Kotseva. "The prevalence of smoking, obesity and central obesity has not changed over the two surveys with more than four in five people at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease being overweight or obese. The therapeutic control of blood pressure and lipids has not improved significantly and the vast majority of patients do not reach the targets defined in the guidelines."

"Our analysis highlights the pressing need for modern preventive cardiology programmes integrating lifestyle and medical risk factor management, adapted to the medical and cultural settings in each country. Health care systems that invest in prevention are urgently needed."