Aims To determine whether the Joint European Societies guidelines on cardiovascular prevention are being followed in everyday clinical practice of secondary prevention and to describe the lifestyle, risk factor and therapeutic management of coronary patients across Europe. Methods and results EUROASPIRE IV was a cross-sectional study undertaken at 78 centres from 24 European countries. Patients <80 years with coronary disease who had coronary artery bypass graft, percutaneous coronary intervention or an acute coronary syndrome were identified from hospital records and interviewed and examined 6 months later. A total of 16,426 medical records were reviewed and 7998 patients (24.4% females) interviewed. At interview, 16.0% of patients smoked cigarettes, and 48.6% of those smoking at the time of the event were persistent smokers. Little or no physical activity was reported by 59.9%; 37.6% were obese (BMI30kg/m(2)) and 58.2% centrally obese (waist circumference102cm in men or 88cm in women); 42.7% had blood pressure140/90mmHg (140/80 in people with diabetes); 80.5% had low-density lipoprotein cholesterol1.8mmol/l and 26.8% reported having diabetes. Cardioprotective medication was: anti-platelets 93.8%; beta-blockers 82.6%; angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors/angiotensin receptor blockers 75.1%; and statins 85.7%. Of the patients 50.7% were advised to participate in a cardiac rehabilitation programme and 81.3% of those advised attended at least one-half of the sessions. Conclusion A large majority of coronary patients do not achieve the guideline standards for secondary prevention with high prevalences of persistent smoking, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity and consequently most patients are overweight or obese with a high prevalence of diabetes. Risk factor control is inadequate despite high reported use of medications and there are large variations in secondary prevention practice between centres. Less than one-half of the coronary patients access cardiac prevention and rehabilitation programmes. All coronary and vascular patients require a modern preventive cardiology programme, appropriately adapted to medical and cultural settings in each country, to achieve healthier lifestyles, better risk factor control and adherence with cardioprotective medications.