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A growing need for more research funding in CVD

ESC Congress News 2015 - London

ESC President Fausto Pinto at Saturday’s Inaugural Session.The ESC has a major role to play in the call for more research funding in CVD to meet the growing challenge of demographics and cardiometabolic trends, ESC President Professor Fausto Pinto said at yesterday’s Inaugural Session.

Despite recent improvements in mortality and morbidity, CVD still claims more than 4 million deaths per year in Europe, with an annual cost to the European economy of some €200 billion.

Research reported recently in the EHJ suggests that by 2030 40% of people in Europe will suffer from some form of CVD. ‘So we have a real paradox,’ said Professor Pinto. ‘On the one hand we’re achieving better treatment results in reducing mortality and morbidity. But on the other, prevalence is increasing because of greater elderly populations and lifestyle factors.’

Advances such as ICDs or primary PCI have played a fundamental role in increasing life expectancy for CVD patients, he said, ‘but such progress is under threat from declining investment in CVD research’.

Although CVD is the most common cause of death in the EU, it received less than €1 billion for research over three years compared to €2.5 billion for cancer. ‘There is a need for more balanced distribution of research money,’ said Professor Pinto. ‘Through our national societies we are stressing the need to support research in CVD.’ He also called for a shorter time needed for new drugs and devices to reach the market, which currently varies widely throughout European countries.

Outlining ESC activities, Professor Pinto highlighted the ESC’s new Atlas of Cardiology, produced by the European Heart Agency with help from national cardiac societies, to provide information on the way cardiology is practised across 40 different countries in Europe. ‘The idea is to provide reliable and robust information that allows us to make informed decisions and identify some of the gaps,’ explained Professor Pinto. The Atlas will be introduced here in London to ESC national cardiac societies and other ESC constituent bodies.

The ESC has been working on a strategic plan previewing the next five years of the organisation, which has redefined the membership concept. ‘Members of national cardiac societies don’t always appreciate that they are automatically members of the ESC,’ said Professor Pinto. ‘We want to increase their sense of membership by introducing a new category of professional membership, which provides many of the perks of fellowship at a reduced fee.’

Professor Pinto paid tribute to this year’s ESC Gold Medallists, Keith Fox, Richard Popp and Michel Haissaguerre. ‘We are honouring three outstanding cardiologists who have made significant contributions in ischemic heart disease, cardiac imaging, and atrial fibrillation ablation,’ he said.

Speaking of this year’s ESC Congress, Professor Geneviève Derumeaux, Chairperson of the Congress Programme Committee, outlined several innovations in the programme. These include an emphasis on the ‘Heart Team’ approach to patient management, and several ‘Advances in Science’ sessions which include an overview lecture to place research in context.