Sophia Antipolis 26 April 2018. Tips and tricks for patients living with acute and chronic heart failure1 will be among the topics discussed at the annual congress of the Heart Failure Association (HFA) of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) in Vienna, Austria, 26 to 29 May. The full scientific programme is now available for Heart Failure 2018 and the World Congress on Acute Heart Failure, which will be held concurrently at Vienna’s Messe Wien.
“Patients with heart failure want to know if they can drive, climb mountains, travel long distances,” said Professor Mitja Lainscak, scientific chairperson of the congress. “They ask about consumption of salt, alcohol, coffee, and chocolate, about smoking, and managing psychosocial distress. One of the sessions will be devoted to providing answers to these frequently asked practical and important questions.”
Reflecting the rich cultural history of Vienna, the theme for this year’s congress is ‘classical repertoire, modern instruments’. “Heart failure is a ‘classical’ condition that we can manage with ‘modern’ methods,” said Professor Lainscak.
One example is promoting alternatives to conventional exercise and physical activity.2 Exercise reduces the risk of early death in patients with heart failure, but adherence is low. Patients can be motivated with new approaches to the ancient practices of yoga and tai chi, or by ‘exergaming’ using video games, for example, that involve physical exercise. Technical alternatives to physical activity include devices for whole body vibration or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation for patients unable to exercise due to severe heart failure, or as a bridge to exercise in those with acute heart failure.
Novel drugs in acute and chronic heart failure will be highlighted in a dedicated session.3 Potassium binding drugs, for example, prevent hyperkalaemia which is a deadly complication of some heart failure medications. Professor Lainscak said: “We are adopting a strategy similar to that in oncology whereby we give one drug so that we can administer a second drug with proven efficacy for heart failure patients.”
Heart failure therapies on the horizon are the focus of a basic science session in which leaders in the field will discuss how to fix mutated genes, target epigenetic mechanisms, target non-coding RNAs, and use induced pluripotent stem cells.4
Four debates will be held on controversial issues including whether coronary revascularisation provides clinical benefit over optimal medical therapy in patients with stable ischaemic heart failure; and whether catheter ablation is superior to drugs for treating patients with atrial fibrillation and heart failure.5 “Devices appear to have more potential than drugs for treating heart failure and there are many more devices in development versus very few drugs,” said Professor Lainscak.
Epidemiological data on heart failure from Austria, Germany, Hungary, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Slovenia6 will be presented, showing how many patients have heart failure in central Europe and the differences between countries. “This kind of data is critical to determine the finances and systems needed to tackle heart failure and to engage the necessary political support to put them in place,” noted Professor Lainscak.
More than 50 years since the world’s first heart transplant, one of the sessions at the congress will reveal the latest advances in immunosuppression. Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub will deliver a lecture on the changing face of heart transplantation.7
During ‘Off the record’ sessions at the congress, Professors Eugene Braunwald, Marc Pfeffer, Barbara Casadei, and Walter Paulus will present their views on heart failure and take part in discussions on wide-ranging issues in heart failure and their personal careers.8