Heartfelt with Dr Melissa Walton-ShirleyView all posts »
Ooh la la--le ESC à Paris!Aug 25, 2011 08:46 EDT
My family and I were in Paris for a vacation in the year 2000. The Eiffel Tower, like a Christmas tree, stood majestically, full-lit over the Seine, a colossal town crier shouting the impending celebration of a new millennium. I remember watching "La dame de fer" (the Iron Lady) from the rear window of our taxi as it shrank out of sight, our hearts heavy that we would soon be leaving beautiful Paris. Our young daughters, now 23 and 18, are now out of the house, but memories of young eight- and 13-year-old girls playfully bounding up those steps of steel are forever etched in my memory. I admit a small lump in my throat wells up as I recall being at the top, the wind in our faces, holding Aaron's hand, the gorgeous City of Light spread out before us. Other venues included the French countryside, Versailles, the Loire Valley, and Monet's gardens in Giverny. I'm happy to be going back to France, and we're lucky because in my nearly eight years with theheart.org, the ESC has never been held in Paris.
Cardiologists should especially feel a bit nostalgic when traveling to the beautiful country of France. Americans would readily acknowledge our countrymen Henry Ford for our automobiles and Thomas Edison for the lightbulb, but how many of us know where our ever-constant companion, the most identifiable tool of our profession, came to be? Necessity, the ever-present mother of invention, spurred Frenchman René Laennec, while examining a rather buxom mademoiselle, to "roll up a quire of paper" into a round cylinder and place it gently on her chest. The improvement in his auscultatory skills advanced light-years at that moment, far above and beyond that of placing his ear and hand on her um . . . chest. Not only were the sounds greatly magnified, but it also saved him the embarrassment of nestling his face in a most embarrassing way in an effort to diagnose one "laboring under general symptoms of a diseased heart." Voilà, the birth of the stethoscope changed all of our lives forever. There is hardly any human being in a civilized society that has not benefited from that invention, and cardiologists will all agree that leaving that tool at home makes one feel much like a carpenter who arrives to work without a hammer. Thank you, beautiful France, for that contribution!
And what about Jean-Baptiste Denys? Were it not for his daring transfusion of sheep's blood on June 15, 1667 into an overly "leached" young man, where would we be today? After he was acquitted of murdering one of his victims by transfusion, it was revealed that the wife of his patient had actually murdered him with arsenic. Unfortunately, Dr Denys became frustrated and disgusted to the point of quitting the profession, not unlike physicians today who are accused publicly of malpractice after giving their best years in an effort to help others. In 1670, the practice of transfusion was banned in France, but it paved the way for Karl Landsteiner's discovery of the four blood groups in the very early 1900s, after which transfusion became safe, reliable, and a necessity to sustain the lives of so many.
The 2011 ESC meeting agenda in Paris promises even more excellent additions to our daily armamentarium in the fight against heart disease. Tantalizing information from presentations will be available from the PURE trial regarding prevention gaps in 17 countries; the link between elevated triglycerides and cardiac events will be examined in the HCS trial; ARISTOTLE will look at the efficacy and safety of apixaban vs warfarin in atrial fib and dal-VESSEL examines the safety and efficacy of dalcetrapib in patients with or at risk of coronary artery disease. Other exciting studies will include a look at clopidogrel after balancing anti-intimal hyperplasia stent potency in all comers; YM150, an oral factor Xa inhibitor; EXAMINATION, with a comparison of everolimus-eluting stents and bare-metal stents in STEMI; and the CRISP AMI trial looking at benefit of counterpulsation to reduce infarct size pre-PCI for AMI patients.
Join us as the theheart.org team spans the globe for in-depth coverage of the latest in cardiology news. We promise an intense review and unique perspectives from some of the greatest minds in the business and in an exciting and vibrant venue where some of the greatest minds in the medical field changed our lives forever.