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A Day with the Legends, ESC Congress 2015

Lightning Talks at ESC London

The Russian National Congress of Cardiology 2015

FDA approves first ARNi for heart failure on 7 July 2015

Action to tackle non-communicable diseases globally

Testing endurance athletes

Cardiac devices and smartphones in cardiology

NOAC treatment during AF ablation

ESC Grants available

ESC toolkit for cardiovascular nurses

2015 Arrigo Recordati Prize for Prevention

Tribute to Guido Tarone MD

Heartfailurematters.org now in Portuguese and Arabic

Hand grip strength predicts MI and CVA

Digoxin in CHF & AF

Europe debate on trans fatty acids added to food

European Heart Failure Awareness Day

ESC President meets Portuguese Minister of Health


A Day with the Legends at ESC Congress 2015

Sunday 30 August in The Hub at Regents Park

08:30 to 09:10 - ESC Andreas Grüntzig Lecture on Interventional Cardiology

Interventional cardiology, where real life and science do not necessarily meet          

Bernard Meier (Bern, CH)

Chairman and Professor of Cardiology, Swiss Cardiovascular Center Bern, University Hospital, Bern, Switzerland.
Swiss native. Trained at the medical school of the University of Zurich, Switzerland, graduated 1975 (best of 180). Board certified in internal medicine 1980 and cardiology 1983. Cardiology training at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, with Andreas Grüntzig

1983 - 1992 Head of invasive cardiology, University Hospital, Geneva, Switzerland.
1992 - Chairman and Professor of Cardiology, University Hospital, Bern, Switzerland.
2001 - Rotating Chairman, Swiss Cardiovascular Center, University Hospital, Bern, Switzerland.

Specialized in interventional cardiology. Involved in coronary angioplasty since the first case performed by Andreas Grüntzig on September 16, 1977 in Zurich, Switzerland. Author and co-author of numerous books, reviews, and original articles on cardiology, in particular interventional cardiology. Organizer and active participant of countless educational meetings on interventional cardiology. Fellow of the American College of Cardiology and of the European Society of Cardiology. Past president of the Swiss Society of Cardiology. Recipient of several awards.

09:20 to 10:00 - ESC William Harvey Lecture on Basic Science

Microcircular networks: the business end of the circulation

Axel Radlach Pries (Berlin, DE)

Axel Radlach Pries studied medicine at the University of Cologne and defended his doctoral thesis in 1980 with ‘summa cum laude’.

He worked as postdoctoral fellow in Cologne and Berlin University and 1997-1998 at the Institute of Anaesthesiology of the German Heart Center Berlin. 1998 he became full professor at the Department of Physiology, Free University Berlin and 2001 head of the Charité Institute for Physiology.

His scientific interests include microcirculation, tumour vasculature, blood rheology, vascular adaptation, angiogenesis, and the endothelial surface layer. He was general secretary of the ESM (European Society for Microcirculation) and is chair of the International Liaison Committee for Microcirculation.

In the ESC, he was chair of the Working Group for Coronary Pathophysiology and Microcirculation and the Council for Basic Cardiovascular Science (CBCS). Since 2015, he is Dean of the Charité University Medicine Berlin.


Meet the Legends

10:10 - 10:50 - Keith Fox (Edinburgh, UK)

He was a founding Fellow of the European Society of Cardiology and Chair of the Programme of the European Society of Cardiology 2012-2014.  In addition, he was President of the British Cardiovascular Society from 2009 to 2012.

His awards include the Silver Medal of the European Society of Cardiology in 2010 and again in 2014 and the Mackenzie medal of the British Cardiovascular Society (2013). Professor Fox’s major research interest lies in the mechanisms and manifestations of acute coronary arterial disease; his work extends from underlying biological mechanisms to in vitro and in vivo studies and clinical trials.

He is an International Associate Editor of the European Heart Journal and Deputy Editor of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology JACC (Europe).  His ongoing research interests include the mechanisms of inflammation and plaque rupture in acute coronary syndromes and antithrombotic therapies.


A Journey to Stockholm

11:00 - 12:30 - Ageing and cardiovascular disease: role of cellular senescence

Elisabeth Blackburn (San Francisco, US)

Professor Elizabeth H. Blackburn is a Nobel Laureate and Morris Herzstein Professor of Biology and Physiology, in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF).

She is a leader in the area of telomere and telomerase research. Elizabeth Blackburn discovered the molecular nature of telomeres - the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes that serve as protective caps essential for preserving the genetic information - and co-discovered the ribonucleoprotein enzyme, telomerase. Professor Blackburn and her research team at UCSF are working with various cells including human cells, with the goal of understanding telomerase and telomere biology. They also collaborate in investigating the roles of telomere biology in human health and diseases, in clinical and other human studies.

Throughout her career, Professor Blackburn has won many prestigious awards. She was elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1991) and the Royal Society of London (1992). She was elected Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences (1993) and Member of the Institute of Medicine (2000). She served on the President’s Council on Bioethics from 2002 to 2004, and has been awarded honorary degrees by 11 Universities. She received the Albert Lasker Medical Research Award for Basic Medical Research in 2006, and in 2007 was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People. In 2008 she was the North American Laureate for L’Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science.

In 2009, Professor Blackburn was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.


Meet the Legends

14:00 - 14:40 - Richard Popp (Palo Alto, US)

Dr. Richard Popp is Emeritus Professor of Medicine at Stanford University. Dr. Popp is a clinical cardiologist and teacher who focused his research on the development of all forms of ultrasound in cardiology with more than 300 scientific publications.  He has trained over 150 cardiologists through his clinical laboratory program.

Dr. Popp was Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Stanford from 1995-2000. He continues to teach in the Stanford Biodesign Innovation Program where he heads the Ethics and Policy group. He has been Chair, the Conflict of Interest Committee at the Medical School since 2000. 

Dr. Popp was President of the American College of Cardiology, the American Society of Echocardiography and the Association of University Cardiologists. He is the previous Chairman of the American Board of Internal Medicine’s Cardiovascular Diseases Sub-specialty Board. He is a Master of the American College of Cardiology and a Fellow of the American Heart Association, the American Society of Echocardiography, and the European Society of Cardiology. He has been given Honorary Fellowship in the Cardiology Society of several countries.

14:50 -15:30 Michel Haissaguerre (Pessac, FR)

16:30 - 17:10 - ESC Rene Laennec Lecture on Clinical Cardiology

The interaction of acute blood pressure change, pericardial restraint and acute outflow tract stretch - A new paradigm underlying sudden cardiac death
George Sutherland (London, UK)



17:20 -18:00 - ESC Geoffrey Rose Lecture on Population Sciences

Optimising cardiovascular health: old and new challenges

Kay-Tee Khaw (Cambridge, UK)

Kay Tee Khaw is Professor of Clinical Gerontology, University of Cambridge.   
She trained in medicine at Girton College, University of Cambridge and St. Mary's Hospital, University of London (now Imperial College). She worked under Geoffrey Rose in clinical medicine at St. Mary’s Hospital and subsequently in epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, with later clinical and academic posts in the University of London and University of California San Diego.  

Her research interests are the maintenance of health in later life and the causes and prevention of chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer and osteoporosis with a focus on nutrition, physical activity, and hormones. The research is based on longitudinal population studies and clinical trials.  

She is a principal investigator in the European Prospective Investigation in Cancer in Norfolk, part of a ten country half million participant research collaboration over two decades.  She is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, UK and has a National Institutes of Health Research Senior Investigator award.


Continuing Excellence at the Heart of Cardiology – ESC publishing in 2015

The 2015 European Society of Cardiology Congress in London is in many ways the true highlight of the year for publishing in cardiology. Oxford University Press is delighted to be working with ESC again on what appears to be a bigger conference than ever before. Alongside the flagship European Heart Journal (now officially #2 in the world of cardiovascular medicine), we are showcasing some exciting new publications that are part of the ever-growing international ESC portfolio.

There are two new journals (EHJ-Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy and EHJ-Quality of Care & Clinical Outcomes), as well as 4 major new ESC textbooks in, Intensive and Acute Cardiovascular CareCardiovascular ImagingPreventive Cardiology; and a beautiful, accessible case-based learning book with MCQs: The EHRA Book of Pacemaker, ICD, and CRT Troubleshooting. All are new for 2015 and available alongside the well-established ESC Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine (Second Edition), The EAE Textbook of Echocardiography and the journal family, including Cardiovascular ResearchEuropean Heart Journal SupplementsEP-Europace and EHJ-Cardiovascular Imaging.

To give participants a taste of what’s new this year, don’t miss our series of Lightning Talks at the Oxford University Press stand (#B801) during lunch and coffee breaks. Every day during the Congress, ESC editors, authors, and advisors – all experts in their field – will give short talks about their work and experience.

Lightning Talks:

  • Professor Thomas Lüscher kicks-off the Lightning Talks at 16:00 on Saturday.



  • On Sunday Professor Jolanda van der Velden will speak, followed by Professor Marco Tubaro on STEMI systems of care and therapeutic strategies.

On Monday our line-up includes:

  • Professor Haran Burri who will present cases and brain teasers from his new book on device trouble shooting,



  • Professor Stefan Agewall who will introduce the new journal EHJ-Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy,



  • Professor Pascal Vranckx and Professor Adam Timmis, who will share his experiences as a journal editor on low-level research misconduct. And for insights into the world of publishing in clinical medicine,


  • Ms. Rachel Fenwick from OUP will showcase our digital publishing platform Oxford Medicine Online, and



  • Mr Andy Sandland reveals all about Open Access Publishing during the breaks on Tuesday.



So don’t miss out – drop by the Oxford University Press stand to hear the speakers and discover everything that is on offer this year in cardiology, from definitive new textbooks with exclusive discounts, to free copies of all the ESC journals published by Oxford University Press.


The Russian National Congress of Cardiology 2015

The 2015 Congress will be held in Moscow, capital of the Russian Federation 22-25 September reports Prof Evgeny Shlyakhto

The Russian National Congress of Cardiology is a key annual event of the Russian Society of Cardiology, which gives an opportunity to discuss crucial issues of cardiovascular research and clinical practice on the multidisciplinary and international basis.

Today, the Russian Society of Cardiology is an all-Russian organization with more than 5,500 members and representations in about 60 regions of Russia. At the moment, 30 sections and 3 working groups are included in the Russian Society of Cardiology.

The Russian Society of Cardiology (RSC) is developing interdisciplinary approaches and aims to cooperate with other medical specialties. Among its members, there are internists, cardiovascular specialists, endocrinologists and other specialists interested in cardiovascular diseases.

The Russian National Congress of Cardiology has been held annually since 2000. Since 2012, one of the priorities for the RSC became its integration into the world cardiovascular community. Since that time there has been growing international participation, including leaders from the top world professional associations such as European Society of Cardiology and American College of Cardiology, which has become a new feature of the national event. This ensures an important contribution to its success as well as, to its scientific and educational value.

Today, the Russian National Congress of Cardiology is the key annual event of the most influential professional medical association in the country. The Congress scientific programme discusses the most significant modern achievements in prevention, diagnostics and treatment of cardiovascular diseases. The main topics include:

  • most demanding issues of emergency and elective cardiovascular care;
  • key problems in development and introduction of modern medical technologies into the primary and secondary prevention, diagnostics and treatment;
  • development of basic research: introducing the concept of translational medicine into cardiology;
  • improvement of pharmacotherapy following the latest evidence-based medical achievements;
  • modern imaging techniques in cardiology;
  • development of modern diagnostic methods (including prenatal methods) and technologies for the treatment of congenital cardiovascular defects and cardiology issues in perinatology and paediatrics;
  • development and introduction of new surgical interventions and hybrid technologies, problems of heart transplantation and innovations in the  treatment of cardiac arrhythmias;
  • co-morbidities in cardiology, geriatric aspects in cardiovascular diagnostics and treatment;
  • rehabilitation issues of cardiovascular patients and sports cardiology;
  • development of continuous medical education (CME) system in cardiology;
  • organization of nursery for cardiovascular patients.

The scientific programme traditionally consists of keynote lectures, plenary sessions, scientific symposia, workshops, poster sessions, a Young Cardiologist Award session, as well as training sessions with the possibility of receiving CME credits.

The 2014 Congress held in Kazan became the most significant event for the professional community: 170 scientific sessions and symposia, among them 12 plenary sessions, 11 educational seminars, 3 master classes, 3 discussion clubs and 3 round tables. In all about 4,500 delegates from 191 Russian cities and 29 foreign countries participated.

In 2015, the Russian National Congress of Cardiology will be held in Moscow, the capital of the Russian Federation, which hosts numerous of the most important events every year and well known for its traditional hospitality. The Congress guests will have an opportunity to get in touch with thousand years of Russian history and see the outstanding sights of one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Evgeny Shlyakhto MD FESC

President of the Russian Society of Cardiology



Adolfo J de Bold’s 1981 pioneering discovery results in first ARNi drug approval for heart failure

The first drug in the class ARNi, a combination of an Angiotensin Receptor Blocker (valsartan) and a Neprilysin inhibitor (sacubitril) was approved by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration on 7 July 2015, after it had been demonstrated to reduce rehospitalisation rates and prolong life in patients with heart failure and reduced ejection fraction.

Adolfo J. de Bold discovered atrial natriuretic protein (ANP) in 1981 which he originally called atrial natriuretic factor whilst at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. He found that an extract from the atrial muscle of rat hearts caused a rapid and profound increase in sodium and chloride excretion. This led to the PARADIGM-HF (Prospective comparison of ARNi with ACEi to Determine Impact on Global Mortality and Morbidity in Heart Failure) trial which was closed early based on the strength of interim results.

Dr Eugene Braunwald, TIMI Study Group, Boston, USA, has stated, “the unambiguous superiority of clinical outcomes in patients with HFrEF by the first ARNi over enalapril in the PARADIGM HF trial represents a significant achievement with important clinical implications. Adolfo J. de Bold’s discovery places him among the most important cardiovascular scientists of the last 100 years”.



Policy statement from AHA, ESC, EACPR and ACPM

Experts call for ‘all hands on deck’ to tackle global burden of non-communicable disease. A policy statement from the American Heart Association, the European Society of Cardiology, the European Association for Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation and the American College of Preventive Medicine on the action needed to tackle non-communicable diseases (NCDs) on a global basis, has just been published, simultaneously in EHJ and Mayo Clinic Proceedings [1].

The authors propose that organisations at every level of society, from the family unit, to companies, to industry, to government and non-governmental organisations worldwide should collaborate to create, implement and sustain healthy lifestyle initiatives that will reverse the current upward trajectory of NCDs.

They say that identifying the enormous burden caused by NCDs is not enough and it is time to pursue strategies both within and outside traditional healthcare systems that will succeed in promoting healthier lifestyles in order to prevent or delay health conditions that cause the deaths of over 36 million people worldwide each year at a cost of at least US $6.3 trillion – that is projected to rise to $13 trillion by 2030.

Professor Ross Arena, of the University of Illinois at Chicago (USA), who was chair of the policy statement authors stated “The challenge is how to initiate global change, not towards continuing documentation of the scale of the problem, but towards true action that will result in positive and measurable improvements in people’s lifestyles.”

The experts call for a paradigm shift in the prevention and treatment of NCDs. “The importance of promoting and leading a healthy lifestyle must take a significantly more prominent role, from the individual/family to global population level, capitalising on all forms of preventive strategies. They propose that the treatment of NCDs should move outside of the traditional, often reactionary, healthcare model. Prevention is the key and preventive strategies at earlier stages in the community are best, for instance at the very beginning of life.

The paper identifies a number of barriers or challenges to implementing healthy lifestyles, and it suggests possible solutions. The authors conclude that they hope their paper will motivate organisations at all levels of society to: “1) Embrace their defined roles with respect to HL [healthy lifestyles] promotion and take action that will result in meaningful and positive change; 2) officially designate one or more healthy lifestyle ambassadors that have the organisational support needed to develop and implement HL initiatives; and 3) commit to ongoing communication amongst stakeholders that will result in collaborative HL initiatives.”

[1] “Healthy lifestyle interventions to combat non-communicable disease: a novel non-hierarchical connectivity model for key stakeholders. A policy statement from the AHA, ESC, EACPR and ACPM”, by Ross Arena et al.
Published simultaneously in:
Mayo Clinic Proceedings, doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2015.05.001
European Heart Journal. doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehv207


Endurance athletes should have cardiac testing while exercising rather than at rest

New evidence published in the European Heart Journal [1] 3 June, has shown that important signs of right ventricular dysfunction which are potentially fatal can only be detected during exercise.

In this new study, Prof André La Gerche and his colleagues in Australia and Belgium have found that problems in the way the right ventricle works become apparent only during exercise and cannot be detected when an athlete is resting. La Gerche said: “You do not test a racing car while it is sitting in the garage. Similarly, you can’t assess an athlete’s heart until you assess it under the stress of exercise.”

The researchers tested cardiac performance in 17 athletes with right ventricular arrhythmias, 8 of whom had an ICD in place, 10 healthy endurance athletes and 7 non-athletes, using  invasive procedures such as cardiac MRI with intravascular catheters, and non-invasive methods e.g. echocardiography. They found that cardiac function at rest was similar in all three groups, as was left ventricular function during exercise. However, measurements during exercise showed changes in right ventricular function in the athletes who were known to have arrhythmias compared to the other two groups.
La Gerche said: “These results should stimulate cardiologists who manage athletes to pay greater attention to the right side of the heart. The tests that we describe are ready for clinical use now and are not too challenging. It is simply a case of ‘you will not find unless you look’.”

In an accompanying editorial [2], Prof Sanjay Sharma, of St George’s University of London (UK), who is medical director of the London Marathon and chair of the European Society of Cardiology’s sports cardiology nucleus, and Dr Abbas Zaidi, a research fellow at St George’s University of London, and a marathon runner, describe the study as “novel and important in several regards”. They write: “Importantly, assessment of the right ventricle should form an integral component of risk assessment in athletes presenting with potentially lethal rhythm disturbances. Until only recently considered to be a Pandora’s Box of spurious and detrimental public messages, the right ventricle and its potential for adverse remodelling is increasingly acknowledged to represent the true Achilles’ heel of the endurance athlete.”
[1] “Exercise-induced right ventricular dysfunction is associated with ventricular arrhythmias in endurance athletes”, by André La Gerche et al. European Heart Journal. doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehv202
[2] “Arrhythmogenic right ventricular remodelling in endurance athletes: Pandora’s Box or Achilles’ heel?” by Abbas Zaidi and Sanjay Sharma. European Heart Journal. doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehv199

Uninterrupted NOAC therapy during AF ablation is safe

Uninterrupted treatment with novel oral anticoagulants (NOACs) during catheter ablation of atrial fibrillation (AF) is safe, according to research presented at EHRA EUROPACE – CARDIOSTIM 2015 by Dr Carsten Wunderlich.

The observational study included 549 consecutive patients with drug refractory AF who were scheduled for catheter ablation with pulmonary vein isolation at the Heart Centre Dresden. A total of 233 patients were taking a vitamin K antagonist and 316 patients were taking a NOAC. Patients continued to take their prescribed anticoagulation medication without missing any doses. After the procedure echocardiography was performed to exclude pericardial effusion and patients were followed up for six months.

No patients in either group experienced a stroke or systemic embolism. There was one pericardial effusion in the vitamin K antagonist group and two in the NOAC group. Three NOAC patients had an arteriovenous fistula compared to one on vitamin K antagonists. Pseudoaneurysms were experienced by seven patients on vitamin K antagonists and two on NOACs, while three NOAC patients had groin hematoma compared to four on vitamin K antagonists.

‘Our study suggests that NOACs can be continued during catheter ablation of AF without an increased risk of periprocedural bleeding or thromboembolism,’ said Wunderlich. ‘Importantly, pericardial effusions in the NOAC group did not require specialised treatment.’

He added: ‘The results of our observational study suggest that continuous NOACs are as good as continuous vitamin K antagonists during ablation of atrial fibrillation. Our study was conducted in a high volume centre with heart surgery on site and experienced physicians doing about 1,200 ablations a year. In clinical practice we do not stop NOACs before an ablation and this is a good approach for experienced centres but I would not recommend it for all hospitals. This is a single centre experience and a randomised trial is needed before firm conclusions can be drawn.’


ESC Grants available summer 2015

1. Young basic scientist wanting to get connections abroad?

The Council on Basic Cardiovascular Science encourages young scientists within Europe to establish research links by visiting institutions abroad. Apply for the ESC First Contact Initiative Grant by 15 July 2015

2. EACVI Training & Research Grants

The EACVI offers research & training grants to help young candidates in obtaining experience in a high standard academic centre in an ESC member country, other than their own
Don't miss the opportunity to get specialised training or research in a non-invasive cardiovascular imaging technique!

Application deadline: 30 September 2015


New ESC toolkit for cardiovascular nurses and allied professionals

The ESC Council on Cardiovascular Nursing and Allied Professions (CCNAP) launched its online toolkit during its Annual Congress EuroHeartCare 2015 weekend in Dubrovnik, on 14-15 June. Composed of videos, webcasts, presentations and educational tools, this toolkit aims to help Nurses in implementation of ESC Guidelines. This new initiative is an educational and motivational aid to nurses and allied professionals working in clinical practice.

The toolkit is part of the CCNAP Guidelines Implementation Programme which also includes a survey to evaluate knowledge of Nurses and Allied Professionals in Guidelines Implementation.


Salim Yusuf and John McMurray share renowned Prize

John McMurray and Salim Yusuf

Salim Yusuf MD and John J V McMurray MD shared the 2015 Recordarti Prize of €100,000.00 at an award ceremony during the European Society of Hypertension Annual Meeting 13 June 2015, in Milan, Italy.

The eighth edition of the Arrigo Recordati International Prize for Scientific Research recognized a clinical or basic science investigator who had achieved distinction in the study of secondary prevention and risk reduction strategies for patients with cardiovascular diseases.

In his acceptance speech Salim Yusuf spoke of his early career at Oxford, UK, which brought about the groundbreaking knowledge, that simple aspirin and beta blockers had a profound effect on reducing the mortality of acute myocardial infarction.

The Arrigo Recordati International Prize for Scientific Research was established in 2000 and is a legacy in memory of the Italian pharmaceutical entrepreneur Arrigo Recordati. It is awarded every two years to a scientist who has demonstrated dedication to the advancement of scientific knowledge in cardiology. 


Guido Tarone MD tribute

Guido Tarone

Guido Tarone, the current chair of the WG Myocardial Function, passed away on May 17 2015 at age 63. A bicycle accident took him away too soon from his beloved family, his students and his colleagues.

Guido was an integral member of the small European community of true basic scientists that entered the field of translational science in cardiology. He was associated with EU networks and together with his group in Turin, Italy, was one of the key partners to enthusiastically promote interactions and cooperation between the European groups.

Guido contributed substantially to ESC and HFA activities. He initiated and contributed to position papers, summer schools, workshops. He was as Chair of the WG on Myocardial Function appointed to the office at the ESC meeting in 2014. Guido organized the 2015 annual meeting of the WG on myocardial function together with HFA and the WG on Cell biology in Varenna, Italy, early in May. It was a great meeting, with a new format giving a lot of room to young scientists. It is a great tragedy that now we have to announce his unexpected demise which was an incredible shock.

His inspiring attitude towards science assures that his thoughts will be pursued. During his career he inspired, formed and influenced countless researchers. His personality left a strong imprint as well: Guido was not only a talented scientist, he was also a person with exquisite gentle manners and great humanity. He will be remembered for his warmth and for his kind, open mood. He showed how science requires inspiration and excitement but also independence of thought.

With his scientific work he pioneered our understanding how the heart sensitizes mechanical strain. His work focused on how interaction of cardiac muscle cells with the extracellular matrix could become novel therapeutic targets.
We will never forget Guido, he lives on in our hearts.

Johann Bauersachs, FESC, FHFA, Past Chair WG Myocardial Function
Stephane Heymans, Vice Chair WG Myocardial Function


Heartfailurematters.org now in Portuguese and Arabic

Heartfailurematters.org is a website created by the Heart Failure Association of the ESC and designed to provide easily understood and practical information about living with heart failure for patients, their families and carers. The site was developed by heart failure specialists, nurses and primary care physicians with input from patients and caregivers from across Europe. It is presented in 6 sections:

  • Understanding Heart Failure,
  • What can your doctor do?
  • What can you do?
  • Living with Heart Failure,
  • For caregivers,
  • Warning Signs

And also provides useful downloadable tools.  Tailored information is delivered not only in the text, but also by real-life videos of patients discussing the common issues faced by these patients. In addition, the site includes a number of original and captivating animations of the heart showing how the heart works, what goes wrong in heart failure and how treatments can improve symptoms and quality of life.

The site, based on a platform at the IT dept. at the European Heart House, receives over 140 000 visits per month. It is accessed from all over the world, due to the fact that the entire site is translated into 9 languages: English, Spanish, German, French, Dutch, Greek, Russian, Portuguese/Brazilian and Arabic. The site is also currently being translated into Swedish.
An animated guide helps visitors navigate through the site in all languages. Feedback from patients and healthcare professionals on the comprehensive but patient-friendly information is extremely positive and the site is regularly updated and reviewed by an active core group with representatives from each language.

Emphasis is placed on helping patients understand their condition and on providing practical advice for living with heart failure. The value of the site as an educational tool is currently being evaluated by a large randomised trial in the Netherlands. This attractive, web-based tool is an indispensable information resource as part of a treatment programme.

It is also employed by cardiologists, nurses and primary care physicians to provide information and educate patients living with heart failure.

Visit Heartfailurematters.org

Hand grip strength predicts MI and stroke

Weak hand grip strength is linked with shorter survival and a greater risk of myocardial infarction or stroke, according to the PURE study.

Reduced muscular strength, which can be measured by grip strength, has been consistently linked with early death, disability, and illness. But until now, information on the prognostic value of grip strength was limited, and mainly obtained from select high income countries.

The Prospective Urban-Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study included nearly 140,000 adults and was conducted in 17 countries of varying incomes and sociocultural settings. Grip strength was assessed using a handgrip dynamometer and subjects were followed for a median of four years.

The researchers found that every 5kg decline in grip strength was associated with a 16% increased risk of death from any cause, a 17% greater risk of cardiovascular death, a 17% higher risk of non-cardiovascular mortality, a 7% increased risk of heart attack and a 9% higher risk of stroke.

The associations persisted even after adjusting for age, education level, employment status, physical activity level, and tobacco and alcohol use.

Grip strength was a stronger predictor of all cause and cardiovascular mortality than systolic blood pressure.

Read the paper in The Lancet

Digoxin increases mortality risk in CHF or AF

There is conflicting evidence about whether digoxin, might contribute to an increase in deaths in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) or congestive heart failure (CHF). Now, the largest review of all the evidence to date shows that it is associated with an increased risk of death in these patients, particularly in those being treated for AF.

In a study published in the European Heart Journal [1], researchers from the J.W. Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of all studies published in peer-reviewed journals between 1993-2014 that looked at the effects of digoxin on death from any cause in AF and CHF patients.

They identified 19 relevant studies that included a total of 326,426 patients (235,047 AF and 91,379 CHF patients). They found that digoxin was associated with a 29% increased mortality risk in patients with AF and a 14% increased risk of death in CHF from any cause, when compared to patients not receiving the drug.

Stefan Hohnloser, Professor of Cardiology at Frankfurt University who led the study, said: “Definite evidence can only come from results of randomised controlled trials. However, next to these, carefully performed meta-analyses provide the best clinical guidance and serve to generate hypotheses that need to be tested prospectively. Our analysis, together with evidence from other studies, all point in the same direction: there is harm associated with the use of digoxin.”

Prof Hohnloser said that there has only been one prospective randomised controlled trial of digoxin, which was carried out in 6,800 CHF patients, and none in AF patients. “We need randomised controlled trials to examine the use of digoxin for both conditions and that test the drug versus a placebo or another, active treatment”.

[1] “Digoxin-associated mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature”, by Mate Vamos, Julia Erath, and Stefan H. Hohnloser et al. European Heart Journal. doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehv143


Europe and trans fatty acids added to food

Standfirst: Europe’s policy makers call for action on industrially produced trans fatty acids in foods in the European Union

The impact of industrially produced trans fatty acids (TFAs) on the health of citizens in the European Union (EU) was debated in Brussels on 14 April 2015, by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), representatives of the European Commission and WHO Europe.

These fats are produced by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil and are used as ingredients in some processed foods, including biscuits and ready meals.

The panel debate in the European Parliament, Brussels, is an initiative of the Members of the European Parliament (MEP) Heart Group, with the support of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) and of the European Heart Network (EHN).

To date, only three EU Member States - Austria, Denmark and Hungary - have adopted legislation to restrict industrially produced TFAs in the food chain. It is estimated that thousands of lives and billions of Euros could be saved if these measures were introduced more widely.

In 2008, the European Parliament published a study recommending that a ban on industrially produced TFAs should be considered at EU level. In 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded that the information available was sufficient to recommend reducing significantly or virtually eliminating industrially produced TFAs from the food supply. In December 2014 the European Commission was expected to present a report on the presence of trans fats in foods and in overall diet in the EU population.

Experiences from Denmark and New York show that TFAs can be replaced with healthier substitutes without increasing the cost or reducing the quality of foods. (1,2)


1. Stender S, Dyerberg J, Bysted A, Leth T, Astrup A. A trans world journey. Atheroscler Suppl 2006;7:47–52. doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosissup.2006.04.011 PMID:16713385

2. Angell SY, Silver LD, Goldstein GP, Johnson CM, Deitcher DR, Frieden TR et al. Cholesterol control beyond the clinic: New York City’s trans fat restriction. Ann Intern Med 2009;151:129–34. PMID:19620165


European Heart Failure Awareness Day 2015
Heart Failure Awareness Day (8-9-10 May, 2015 depending on country) is designed to raise awareness about the importance of recognising heart failure, getting an accurate diagnosis and receiving optimal treatment.
National heart failure societies all over Europe, and amongst affiliated societies, are preparing open house clinics, town square booths, city-wide posters and TV and radio campaigns to bring heart failure to the attention of their fellow citizens.

Each country can participate in an award for the best programme. 5 winning national heart failure societies receive 5000 Euros from the HFA and certificates at the HFA Summit in October.
Winning programmes (all programmes are judged together in one country) show outstanding commitment to the event and illustrate the best preparation and organisation in the following categories:

  • Public Event
  • Open clinic
  • TV & radio coverage
  • Newspaper & website coverage
  • Printed material for patients
  • Involvement of patient groups

Prevention a priority in Portugal

On Sunday 19 April, the Portuguese Minister of Health, Pablo Macedo, opened the XXXVI Annual Congress of the Portuguese Society of Cardiology, together with ESC President Prof Fausto Pinto, Dr Miguel Mendes and Prof José Silva Cardoso, respectively President Elect and President of the Portuguese Society of Cardiology.

Together they agreed to make prevention a priority, in order to reduce the mortality due to cardiovascular diseases in Portugal. In only two weeks, 14-16 May EuroPRevent, the annual leading international event in preventive cardiology organised by the ESC, will take place in Lisbon, Portugal.

The theme of this year's congress is: “Addressing Inequalities in Cardiovascular Health”. The educational programme is accredited by the European Board for Accreditation in Cardiology (EBAC) for 15 hours of External CME credits.

After the Congress the 5 Km RUN 4 HEALTH race will start at 15:30 hr at the Jamor National Sport Centre. Organised by the European Society of Cardiology and SURVIVORS RUN, all profits from the 10 Euro fee will be donated to the European Heart for Children.