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Joint sessions reinforce the friendships between EHRA and sister societies

EHRA EUROPACE - CARDIOSTIM 2017 may have “euro” in its title but it is actually a truly international meeting—with delegates and speakers coming from across the globe to the Congress. Additionally, the considerable number of joint sessions (13 in total) reinforces the connection between the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) and sister societies.

EHRA Chair of the National Cardiac Societies Committee Professor Bela Merkely (Heart and Vascular Center, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary) told Congress News that 11% of delegates come from Asia Pacific, 7% come from North America, 2% come from South or Central America, and 1% of delegates come from Africa. Furthermore, of the top 10 most represented countries at the congress, two are from countries outside of Europe (USA and Japan).

He added: “Our faculty (485) come from more than 46 different countries,” noting: “We can definitely say that EHRA EUROPACE - CARDIOSTIM 2017 is the meeting place for international professionals in the field of cardiac rhythm disorders and therapies.”

A testament to the international flavour of the meeting is the number of joint sessions, between EHRA and a sister society, being held at the Congress. The topics of the 13 sessions range from yesterday’s “Recent advances in VT ablation: any effect on outcome?” to Wednesday’s “Athlete with abnormal ECG: the experts’ approach in 2017”. The societies working with EHRA are as diverse as the topics being discussed, including internationally renowned societies such as the Heart Rhythm Society and national societies like the Cardiac Arrhythmia Society of Southern Africa.

Such sessions, Prof. Merkely said, are “essential” in highlighting the differences in patient care or in clinical practice from one country to another or from one continent to another. “Joint sessions can also provide delegates with key information on specific cases or diseases that may be less common in Europe,” he noted. 

According to Professor Christophe Leclercq (Centre Hospitalier Universitaire, Rennes, France)—the EHRA International Affairs Coordinator—the collaboration between EHRA and sister societies is a “natural evolution” in EHRA’s aim of improving the quality of life of the population by reducing the impact of cardiac rhythm disturbances and reducing sudden cardiac death. He added that as well as the joint sessions at the Congress, the society works with other societies to “provide consensus documents to homogenise the management of patients with arrhythmias”.

He noted that the joint sessions at previous Congresses have been well received. “The feedback on the previous outstanding sessions that we have held, with expert speakers from both EHRA and other societies, has been excellent. Importantly, these sessions have reinforced the collaboration, the network, and the friendship between EHRA and sister societies,” Prof. Leclercq commented.

Prof. Merkely stated that he has personally benefitted from international collaboration.

He said: “At the beginning of my career, I worked for two years in an electrophysiology lab in Heidelberg (Germany). The international working environment and the knowledge of the prominent German professors with whom I worked had a big impact on me. It served as a benchmark when I became clinical director of my hospital.” He added that his goal has always been to “build bridges” between Central-Eastern Europe and Western Europe, stating: “As the Honorary President of the Hungarian Heart Rhythm Society, I regularly take part in the organisation of the society’s annual congress. We, as a society, invite numerous international experts to hold lectures at the congress. I think it is a generally accepted fact that well-known international speakers attract more delegates.”

Summing up the value of working with sister societies, Prof. Leclercq said: “We learn a lot from each other so that we can create a worldwide network, which allows us to develop new ideas for the management of cardiac arrhythmias.”

Joint sessions track - from Sunday 18 June to Wednesday 21 June

View the programme