Stockholm, Sweden, 1 September 2010: Professor Fausto Pinto, outgoing chairman of the Congress Programme Committee, described ESC Congress 2010 as a ‘great success’ with a total of 27,547 registered participants. Attendance, he said, was not as high as in Barcelona last year, but still 12% above the level recorded in 2005 when the Congress was last held in Stockholm.
Video screens around the congress building were a new feature this year, so if lecture halls were full - as many were - presentations were still available on screen. ‘It’s positive and bitter-sweet to see people outside the rooms,’ said Pinto. ‘It’s a sign of the interest there now is in this Congress. It shows how the ESC is a platform for representing new drugs, new developments, or even new applications for already developed drugs. Cardiology has once again been shown to be an ever emerging science.'
Pinto stressed that the ESC's congress goal in terms of education and science is 'better patient management', and this ambition too had been largely fulfilled. The newly introduced young cardiologists programme had been much applauded and will likely be continued next year. Four new practice guidelines were also published and welcomed by clinicians.
Among 17 Hot Line trials selected for the press conferences, Pinto noted the SHIFT and EINSTEIN-DVT studies, each of which he described as 'highlights' of the Congress. ‘We’re all very excited by the results from SHIFT,' he said. 'Ivabradine is not a new drug but it’s a new use in moderate to severe heart failure. The SHIFT trial - and the sub-study - both showed for the first time that reducing heart rate is beneficial for patients with heart failure.'
The EINSTEIN-DVT trial was also considered an important study, mainly because the oral factor Xa inhibitor rivaroxaban removes many of the drawbacks associated with standard therapy (subcutaneous injections, warfarin) for the treatment of deep vein thrombosis.
However, there were many studies outside the Hot Line and Clinical Trial Update programme which also deserved attention. Professor Joep Perk from the ESC Press Committee singled out several abstracts and presentations featured in the press programme:
- Impact of regular physical activity and different socio-educational status on cardiovascular risk factors in school children, by Dr Katharina Machalica. ‘She was able to show that the children from the poorer schools were less active and had higher BMI,' said Perk. 'Her elegant conclusion was to put more money and exercise programmes into certain schools because these children will derive a marked benefit’.
- Moderate coffee consumption improves aortic distensibility in hypertensive elderly Greeks (Ikaria study), by Dr Christina Chrysohoou. ‘This was a nice study from Greece,' said Perk. 'One or two cups of coffee a day - particularly for the elderly with hypertension - were associated with greater elasticity in the aorta.'
- Safety of statin therapy: meta-analysis of data on cancer from 166,000 participants in 25 randomised trials, by Dr Jonathan Emberson. 'There have been well publicised concerns about a link between statins and cancer,' said Perk, 'but this study - in a huge number of people and from one of the strongest epidemiology centres in the world - was able to show there is no significant increase in cancer risk associated with statins.’
Perk also noted two other key messages to emerge from the scientific programme of this Congress: the need for early diagnosis of atherosclerosis; and that studies have yet to show that omega-3 fatty acids work as secondary prevention. ‘There's a lot of evidence that the habits of childhood continue into older age,' he said, 'but when do we need to begin our prevention campaigns? When do you start testing? Well, we know now we must start a lot earlier. And omega-3 fatty acids? So far, we can't recommend margarine reinforced with omega-3s for secondary prevention, because they don't seem to work. Anyway, why put fish oil in capsules or margarine? Just take the whole fish.’
The spotlight of ESC Congress 2011(1) - to be held from 27 to 31 August in Paris - will be ‘controversies in cardiology': To date there are many unresolved issues in cardiology hence we expect several lively debates which will no doubt raise interest among the Press. New ESC President Professor Michel Komajda said: ‘I welcome you in advance to my home city next year.’