ESC 2018: a delegate's viewpoint

Written by Jenny Feehan and Bella Santa Cruz on Monday 8th October 2018

As a medical writer and account director for Succinct Medical Communications (an OPEN Health company), we gain and maintain our therapy area expertise through the work we do and the training we receive in our teams. Internal training workshops, thought leader partnership and study days, research at the beginning of a project, writing scientific content, and working strategically alongside our colleagues and clients are all ways in which we develop a thorough understanding of specific therapy areas. We also benefit from opportunities to stay up-to-date by attending world-class events such as the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) congress.

The 2018 annual ESC congress was held in Munich, Germany. The ESC congress is the largest cardiology meeting in the world with over 1,000 sessions, 2,000 speakers, and 3,500 slide presentations spread over 5 days. With so much going on, the ESC congress provided us with the perfect opportunity to advance our knowledge of all things cardiology, and gain insights into the latest news and innovations. We were delighted to be asked to attend, soak up as much as possible, and report back to the wider team.

This year, the ESC named valvular heart disease, coronary artery disease, interventional cardiology, and aortic disease as some of the “Spotlight Topics” for the congress. However, the myriad of issues covered ranged from the history of cardiology, heart failure, diabetes and cardiology, to preventative and interventional cardiology, hypertension, e-cardiology and digital health – to name a few! There was an emphasis on cutting-edge clinical data and how these outcomes will affect clinical practice. Scientists presented and discussed the latest data from their trials at daily “Late Breaking Science Sessions” and “Hot Line Sessions”. Our congress highlights included:

  • “CANTOS – one year on” – here a lively discussion took place on whether clinicians should be prescribing canakinumab at a much higher rate in cardiology patients, given the impressive results of the CANTOS study but also noting the drug’s high price. As a leaving remark, CANTOS lead author, Dr. Paul Ridker advised the audience to keep an eye out for results of the CIRT trial. CIRT is an ongoing trial investigating the effects of methotrexate (a much cheaper anti-inflammatory agent) on cardiovascular (CV) events.
  • Note-worthy results from the CAMELLIA trial were presented in one “Hot Line Session”. In this study, anti-obesity drug, lorcaserin, was shown to not increase CV events and is the first drug of its type to do so in a dedicated CV outcomes trial.
  • A highly debated topic was the benefit of long-term, low-dose aspirin in specific patient groups. Results from the ARRIVE trial demonstrated a lack of benefit for non-diabetic patients with moderate CV risk, whereas the ASCEND trial showed a lack of benefit in diabetic patients with no prior CV events.
  • As diabetes is a focus therapy area for Succinct, we were keen to see some diabetes presentations from a cardiology point of view, and it appeared we weren’t the only ones! Since the requirement for CV outcome trials in anti-diabetic drugs was issued in 2008, there has been great interest in the implications of these therapies for cardiology patients. At ESC 2018, the benefits of two such drug classes, SGLT-2 inhibitors and GLP1-receptor agonists, were presented and discussed in several well attended sessions.

The types of sessions were just as diverse as the sessions themselves. As well as the standard plenary and poster presentations, there were also debates, Q&A and expert advice sessions, workshops, and rapid fire abstract sessions. You could also catch up on the most talked about topics of the day by taking a break on a beanbag and watching some “ESC TV”, or by reading the daily ESC newspaper with a coffee and pretzel in the congress centre courtyard.

It’s always fun to see what innovative and imaginative ideas companies use to make their booths the most eye-catching, and the ESC congress did not disappoint. Booth offerings ranged from glycaemic testing (to highlight the connection between diabetes and CVD) to life-sized houses and hospitals (representative of two key aspects of the patient’s journey). The theme of the patient journey was seen throughout the congress, reflecting the commitment of both industry and clinicians to put the patient at the heart of their work.

As well as attending sessions, exploring the booths and browsing the posters, we also made time to enjoy Munich itself. After a busy day at the congress, a wander around the city and a beer or two over dinner was very much appreciated.

After 3 days, we returned to London, each with a notepad full of cardiology notes to present back to the team. As our roles involve delivering similar innovative sessions to the ones seen at the ESC congress, it was a fantastic experience to leave the office for a few days and see the congress through the eyes of a delegate.

Succinct Medical Communications (an OPEN Health company) prides itself in maintaining strong scientific expertise in a number of therapy areas by attending key conferences, interacting with relevant thought leaders, organising study days and more. To find out more about Succinct's cardiology expertise, please contact Louise Carrington, Client Partnerships Lead, Succinct Medical Communications.