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Harnessing enthusiasm and commitment to build on the success of the HFA

Heart Failure 2016 Congress News

Gerasimos Filippatos, University of Athens, Greece
HFA General Assembly; 23 May, 10:05–10:55; Athens

Gerasimos Filippatos (University of Athens, Greece) assumed the role of President on the 10th anniversary of the Heart Failure Association (HFA). Membership now stands at 9,500, with representatives from 45 ESC countries and more than 10 affiliates.

Prof. Filippatos does not have a simple explanation for the HFA’s success. “It may be a phase in the evolution of heart failure,” he says, “together with a better understanding that we can actually do something to manage and prevent heart failure…and the innovations of recent years make it a very attractive area of cardiology for newcomers.”

The HFA’s aim to reduce the burden of heart failure (HF) called for ambitious and wide-reaching measures. Plans to standardise HF certification for individual professionals was an early aim. This involved a task force coordinated by Theresa McDonagh (Kings College, London), and the creation of a group to work on the curriculum. This will culminate in May 2016, when the first exams will take place. Certification for HF nurses is currently ready to be implemented.

Another major project has been the creation of centres of excellence in HF. The aim is to establish 10 centres per year from 2016 onwards. In tandem is the new HFA Postgraduate Course in Heart Failure, in collaboration with the University of Zurich and the ESC Academy in Brussels, which aims to standardise HF training. The first trainees were certified at the end of November 2015.

The HFA also joined with other societies to look at how best to integrate activities related to education, quality control and certification for physicians, nurses and fellows. Quality indicators are under evaluation and the Heart Failure Registry will be used to evaluate implementation of guidelines. A test phase has been completed and the second pilot will be completed in 2016.

The second strategic aim of Prof. Filippatos’s presidency was the establishment of the Heart failure specialists Of Tomorrow (HOT). Coordinated by Ewa Jankowska (Wroclaw Medical University, Poland), the group has proved a major success with would-be HF specialists. There are now over 500 members of the group, which runs its own sessions, operates under its own logo and contributes to the wider HFA.

The third and possibly most wide-ranging aim was to raise awareness of HF. The ambitious project was already underway when Prof. Filippatos assumed the presidency, but there remains much to be done. The HFA has gained the endorsement of 49 national HF societies and worked for the dissemination of the findings of the HFA’s White Paper. A feasibility study for the next phase of the project has now been completed.

The Association also helps to support and develop the World Heart Failure Awareness Day which falls in May each year. The HFA established regular meetings with national HF societies and working groups and, following a summit in Ljubljana, Slovenia, last year, presidents from 36 national societies signed a call to action on HF.

Prof. Filippatos feels cross-working and collaboration with other groups in the ESC is one of the successes of the HFA. He has enjoyed watching how experts come together to produce positive results, and feels the HFA has benefitted from a generous level of dedication and interest. The level of expertise and commitment of individuals working across the HFA’s groups and committees is key to its success and strength.

A prominent success was Heart Failure 2015, in Seville, Spain. He says: “Everybody knows that the HFA congress in May is the place to be for heart failure, and I am very happy that, in these difficult times, our congress can break records for the number of abstract submissions and participants.”

Another success is the European Journal of Heart Failure, under the guidance of editor-in-chief Marco Metra (University of Brescia, Italy), and the newly-established open-access journal ESC Heart Failure, which will open up research findings to a wider audience.

While much has been achieved, the nature of HF means there is still much to do. Prof. Filippatos has been particularly impressed by the enthusiasm that has greeted him over the last two years, and the attitude of young cardiologists. This enthusiasm, together with the talented expertise of the hard-working HFA board members, will, he believes, ensure success for the future.