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ESC 2011 President Michel Komajda: "The patient is the core of our activities"Aug 27, 2011 08:01 EDT
Someone once asked why I like the European cardiology meeting. "The Europeans are so benevolent in their approach to the practice of medicine," I replied. I admire that. Today's introductory comments from Dr Michel Komajda confirmed that my admiration is not misplaced. He began by stating that "Cardiovascular disease is responsible for 2 million deaths per year in Europe, with a total of $2 billion worth of expenditures" for delivery of vascular healthcare. "It is therefore very important that all healthcare professionals align to reduce the burden of disease." Indeed, 30 800 attendees are set to "align" themselves this week at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) 2011 Congress in Paris, coming from every aspect of cardiovascular medicine. "I suppose you could see there were already some rooms overcrowded. This morning and this afternoon, there are special sessions for nurses and general practitioners," he said proudly. "For the good of our patients, we need to join together to fight this disease."
Program committee chair Dr Michael Böhm presented an overview of the number of presentations expected at this year's meeting. "Abstracts have been pouring in from all over the world, with the greatest number from Japan," he stated, as he presented a graphic of the world's contributions. In all, Japanese scientists and physicians were responsible for 54% of the total submissions. The US contributed 36%, the UK 17%, Greece 13%, Spain 12%, and Italy 9%. There will be attendees and contributions from a total of 150 countries; 809 oral presentations, 112 moderated posters, and 3355 traditional posters are expected. In all, there was an astounding 10 836 submitted abstracts, of which 4276 were accepted. The largest number of abstracts was related to ischemic heart disease, and the number of abstracts was the greatest total in the history of the ESC, "even greater than Barcelona," he said.
Dr Böhm was particularly proud of this year's "Cardiologists of tomorrow track," which has been created by young cardiologists and investigators and meant to "increase the visibility of young cardiologists" focusing on such topics as how to write grants, the presentations of challenging case reports, and cardiology training in Europe. He then ended with an invitation to the 2012 ESC meeting set for Munich, for which the spotlight "From bench to bedside" has been chosen.
Prof Kurt Huber next pointed out some interesting upcoming presentations, including one entitled "Don't worry, be happy," a combination of studies from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, looking at the benefits of "mirthful laughter," music, and the impact of job stress on cardiovascular outcomes. That is a "very nice, sexy title," he said. He's also looking forward to one entitled "The difference between women and men," as well as "The future is not far away."
All three of the presenters in today's press conference agreed that perhaps ARISTOTLE, a look at the new compound apixaban for embolic stroke prevention, has the greatest potential to have an impact on the practice of cardiovascular medicine. "Stroke is the biggest problem we have," said Dr Böhm. "This will change practice." "Life is made difficult secondary to regular blood checks," said Dr Komajda, "So it will be major progress for patients if they can remain on a fixed dose." When asked to defend their inclusion of in the hot-line series because a press release in June of this year had already confirmed the study had met its primary end point, the speakers stated that they included this study because "numbers and specifics" had not been included in the original press release and therefore it was fair game for hot-line inclusion.
After this morning's press conference I approached Dr Komajda for some discussion about cardiovascular issues specific to the city of Paris. I thought the traffic was worse than 11 years ago, but the smoking rates seemed less. "The D2B times for Paris, despite traffic, are still in the range of 90 to 120 minutes," he said. "The number of hospitals that are able to provide that service are so very dense that the traffic really doesn't impact it that much," he pointed out. I recalled that in the year 2000, it was one of the few places I've been in the world where people were "smoking double-fisted, even while eating." "Around six years ago we banned smoking in public buildings and in railway stations, and as a result there has been a decline in the number of smokers," he said. "The concerning problem, as in the rest of the world, is that the rate of smoking in young women has increased." He then said, "It is particularly concerning due to simultaneous utilization of anticontraception agents, which sharply increase the risk of coronary events."
At the conclusion of the morning, not one single pharmaceutical company had been named. None of the comments caused us to try to sort which physician was pitching for which company. No one seemed to compete for the spotlight for his or her compound. It is the greatest reason why I look forward to the ESC 2011 here in Paris as it convenes in earnest tomorrow morning. Refreshing because "the patient," indeed, was "the core of our activities." Well said, Dr Komajda.