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The year's best papers on heart failure

Heart Failure

Marco Metra.jpgProf. Marco Metra

Today, experts will present their personal choices of the year’s most notable papers in heart failure, published in the European Heart Journal, the European Journal of Heart Failure and ESC Heart Failure. Professor Marco Metra (University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy), European Journal of Heart Failure Editor-in Chief, describes the work involved in bringing papers to publication and how sessions, like the one taking place this afternoon, help clinicians make sense of the growing amount of data being published in heart failure.

“The increasing pace of technology, particularly the introduction of web-based systems, has facilitated journal submission to such an extent that journals are now inundated with manuscripts,” says Prof. Metra. “As an author myself, I know how much work goes into preparing a paper and I feel bad when we have to issue rejections. However, we just can’t publish all of the papers submitted. Around half will be rejected after an initial consultation with the Associate and Deputy Editors, those making it through this phase going on to be assessed by external peer reviewers.” A number of criteria are used to decide whether a paper is suitable for publication. “Firstly, the topic must have clinical impact,” says Prof. Metra, “and be applicable to clinical practice. Novelty is also important and its lack is one of the most common reasons for rejection. Finally, scientific accuracy is a key element in manuscript selection and this includes important aspects, such as having a sample size large enough to exclude that the results are due to chance, having accurate methods of assessment and using clinically meaningful study endpoints.” The process is particularly stringent for original articles and reviews. “These represent the backbone of the journal,” explains Prof. Metra, “and are used to calculate the impact factor. Less than 10% of those submitted can be accepted.”

This figure makes it easier to understand why today’s session is so useful in highlighting the year’s ‘best of the best’. With presentations addressing epidemiology, imaging, biomarkers, medical therapy and devices, the session represents the range of topics likely to be of interest to heart failure specialists. “The presenters—each an outstanding journal reviewer or editor—have chosen their top picks themselves,” observes Prof. Metra, “and I am really interested to hear which papers they think are important, and why. A lot of really interesting articles have been published in 2017 and 2018, so it won’t be an easy task for them.” He goes on to outline some of the areas he thinks are of particular interest. “The better characterisation of heart failure development and prognostic variables; the 2016 ESC guidelines and the new category of mid-range left ventricular ejection fraction; biomarkers and multimarker strategies to identify disease progression and response to therapy; and improved patient selection and response optimisation for cardiac resynchronisation therapy have all enjoyed good coverage,” he says. “In terms of medical therapy, analyses from randomised controlled trials and results from smaller studies focusing on major unmet needs, such as patients with specific forms of heart failure, have featured prominently. We also publish articles from HFA committees summarising important issues, such as comorbidities, including diabetes and right ventricular failure, in addition to developing areas, for example Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, peripartum cardiomyopathy or cardio-oncology.” Prof. Metra urges delegates not to miss today’s session. “The presenters not only have the skills and expertise to make the best selection of papers possible, they are also great speakers,” he says. “Delegates will learn a lot from this session.”