The Heart Failure Association (HFA) of the ESC will soon be celebrating the tenth anniversary of its foundation. Over the last decade we have undergone an extraordinary growth and developed into a vibrant organisation that has done much to raise the profile of heart failure (HF) in Europe.
We represent the organisation for healthcare professionals working in HF, and currently boast more than 8000 members, most of whom are interested in actively participating in HFA activities This has allowed us to set up an exceptional international network across all continents and numerous activities with the support and close collaboration of more than 50 national societies and HF working groups.
The HFA Annual Congress attracts more than 4000 participants every year who come from all over the world, representing cardiologists, general practitioners, internists, intensivists, emergency room physicians, basic and translational scientists, nurses, technicians, medical students and the industry.
We provide new knowledge via the European Journal on Heart Failure (EJHF) and furthermore our members have access to congress slides. We have prepared for the future by publishing the Heart Failure Specialist Curriculum in the EJHF in early 2014, which recognises that HF is a complex syndrome with high morbidity and mortality. The reality is that cardiologists taking care of HF patients require expertise in complex techniques and devices that often were not around during their specialist training. Our aim is to faciliate members in providing optimal modern HF care according to ESC guidelines, with both education and everyday practice integrated into the curriculum. Last year in collaboration with the ESC Academy and Zurich Heart House we launched the Post Graduate Course in HF, which has been certified by the University of Zurich.
We developed an EBAC accredited on line learning programme based on the curriculum and latest guidelines, which has taken an innovative approach of interactive education.
Our mission “to improve quality of life and longevity, through better prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart failure, including the establishment of networks, for its management, education, and research” led us to develop our successful Heart Failure Awareness Days and the multi language website for patients (www. heartfailurematters.org) which now boasts eight languages, including recently added Arabic and Greek versions.
There is no doubt the HFA needs to attract younger healthcare professionals. We propose special membership or congress registration fees for the young and offer them training grants every year. Moreover, a new group will be formed for the HF experts of tomorrow.
Because science represents our core activity we organise workshops on important topics like acute HF, ventricular assist devices or translational research, with the goal of promoting science and helping clinicians and scientists with the publication of position papers. The HFA believes the complexity of the HF syndrome not only represents a major obstacle to adequate identification and diagnosis of untreated patients, but also thwarts the understanding of HF among both politicians and the general public. For this reason we have launched the Global Heart Failure Awareness Programme, with the aim of making prevention and management of HF a global health priority. This five year project achieved its first milestone with the Heart Failure White Paper, that has been endorsed by worldwide heart failure societies and working groups. The document, which was launched on Friday, provides contemporary data on the prevalence, survival rates and economic costs of HF across the globe and recommends actions to improve outcomes.
The HFA of the ESC is also considering implementing a European quality improvement programme aimed at reducing the gap between current guidelines and their implementation in everyday clinical practice in ESC countries. A pilot survey is on going on this project.
These are some of the numerous successful projects initiated by the HFA, all of which have a strong and relevant impact on the care of HF patients in the everyday clinical practice. What else can be done? I think that it is important to continue and establish all these successful initiatives. Moreover, when a syndrome has the high morbidity and mortality HF has, it is necessary to and improve the education of the health care professionals and the quality of HF units across all ESC countries. Certifiction for HF specialists and centres of excellence represents the next logical step and this will be one of the priorities of my presidency. I invite you all to participate in the committees and activities of the HFA, and to let us have all your new ideas that we can use to inform our future initiatives.