Heart failure is by far the most prevalent chronic cardiac condition. Around 30 million people in Europe have heart failure and its incidence is still increasing: more cases are being identified, more people are living to an old age, and more are surviving a heart attack but with damage to the heart muscle.
According to Professor John McMurray, President of the Heart Failure Association of the ESC, it was not long ago that acute heart failure admissions were “overwhelming” hospitals, but the better identification of symptoms as indicative of heart failure – and thus their more appropriate treatment – have brought about dramatic improvements. “We have seen a 40-50 per cent reduction in mortality rates in a short time,” he says, “and this is mainly because of better diagnosis and better treatment. The trick is to identify the right patient and deliver the right treatment.”
However, despite the improvements, there are still huge challenges in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart failure.
These will all be addressed at Heart Failure 2009, the annual congress of the Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology, which takes place in Nice, France, from 30 May to 2 June.
An important part of this year’s programme will be basic science, with sessions on both translational and highly specific research; such work has seen important developments in the discovery of markers of heart failure, which, according to Professor McMurray, have already “revolutionised” its diagnosis and its management. This year’s basic science sessions are co-organised by the European Section of the International Society of Heart Research and the Basic Science Section of the Heart Failure Association.
According to Professor McMurray, other hot issues in heart failure which the congress will address include its epidemiology, diagnosis, and prognosis.