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HFA Eugene Braunwald Lecture

Heart Failure 2016 Congress News

This year’s HFA Eugene Braunwald Lecture on “Treatment of heart failure: the success of neurohormonal and heart rate control” will be delivered by Karl Swedberg (Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden).

Prof. Swedberg holds an impressive track record in heart failure, his career spanning more than four decades. He was the first to report on survival benefits of beta blockers back in 1979. Subsequently, more positive news was to follow on different drugs and their role in heart failure. The role of angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors was next in 1987, followed by the angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB) in 2003. Recently, Prof. Swedberg was closely involved with research into angiotensin receptor antagonists and a neprilysin inhibitor in 2014 in chronic heart failure. He also has numerous publications to his name, adding up to over 600 publications in peer-reviewed journals, 340 original research papers and >48,000 citations. Furthermore, Prof. Swedberg was chairman of the Task Force on the Diagnosis and Treatment of Chronic Heart Failure that produced the new ESC Guidelines 2005.

“I was fortunate to come into cardiology in 1974”, Prof. Swedberg remembers. “In those days, I collaborated with professor Hjalmarson and Dr. Waagstein who were conducting interesting research with beta blockers in acute ischemia. Eventually, I explored the observations by Dr. Waagstein on beneficial effects by beta blockade in patients with dilated cardiomyopathy. The observations were studied further according to a protocol which led to the discovery that beta blockers prolong survival in these patients. At the time, this was a huge discovery. One must remember that until then, we did not have any effective treatment for heart failure.”

Later, Prof. Swedberg went to San Francisco where he worked on studies with ACE-inhibitors which resulted in the conclusion that they might offer prolonged survival in heart failure.

“After my return to Sweden, we were able to discuss a trial with the producer of enalapril. The trial, CONSENSUS, turned out to be very successful and it was extremely well received.”

Not surprisingly, Prof. Swedberg was awarded the European Society of Cardiology Gold Medal in 2007 for his outstanding contributions to the cardiovascular field.

During the HFA Eugene Braunwald Lecture, Prof. Swedberg will offer delegates a comprehensive review of the clinical trials over the last forty years. Some of the topics he will touch upon are trial design and the controversy surrounding beta blockers in the early days.

“Although the trials which were done at the end of the nineties proved that beta blockers are the most effective treatment, it took us more than twenty years to get there,” he explains. Prof. Swedberg emphasizes the importance of clinical trials and documenting treatment effects. “Evaluating heart failure is so complicated”, he adds. “Designing and conducting the right trials remains a key issue in understanding heart failure.”

The HFA Eugene Braunwald Lecture was launched in 2015 to recognise the contributions to the management of heart failure of key opinion leaders in the field. Prof. Swedberg feels very honoured to be the second speaker delivering this particular lecture. Even more so, as he is the first speaker straight after the laureated name giver himself.

“Braunwald is the ‘superstar’ of cardiology”, says Prof. Swedberg. “I read his memoirs, which make fascinating reading material. They give you a good idea of how much he achieved. Braunwald has conducted an amazing number of studies over the years. His career is particularly interesting because he was a researcher in mainly basic science until the early eighties of the 20th century. Then he switched to clinical trials. This lecture is a way of recognizing what he means to heart failure in a broad sense.”


View the session programme and access the resources on SP&P