Canadian cardiologists make heart failure the priority at annual meeting

 Experts agree new therapies on the horizon can reduce mortality and hospitalizations from one of Canada's largest killers

MONTREAL, June 2, 2015 /CNW/ - Heart failure was the topic of discussion this past weekend in Montreal as Canada's leading cardiologists met at  the second annual  Heart Failure Update 2015 meeting.  The meeting organized by the Canadian Heart Failure Society tackled the urgent need to put heart failure on the radar.  More than 600,000 Canadians live with heart failure, a condition that is the second leading cause of hospitalization in patients 65 years and older. Heart failure can have a devastating impact on a person's quality of life by causing, among other symptoms, shortness of breath, fatigue, and cognitive impairment.

"Heart failure is a growing problem in Canada and leading experts gather once a year to discuss how to address this problem.  A good starting point is awareness; having Canadians understand this condition and recognize the symptoms.  The good news for patients is that we know that new medications that have been shown to reduce both mortality and hospitalizations for patients with this very serious illness are coming to Canada," said Dr. Jonathan Howlett, President of the Canadian Heart Failure Society and co-chair of the event, and Director of Heart Failure at the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta in Calgary. "This has enormous implications both for how we manage patients at different stages of the disease and for reducing its burden on our healthcare system."

The growing burden
Though there has been progress in reducing many cardiovascular problems, heart failure rates continue to rise in Canada.i The burden of heart failure is expected to increase as Canada's population ages and will bring additional challenges to an already strained healthcare system, with one of every five Canadians developing the condition in their lifetime.ii

"Unless we also seriously address prevention, the number of Canadians with heart failure could double in the next 30 years from the current 600,000,"iii added Dr. Howlett. "New treatments that can delay the progression of disabling symptoms, and thereby reduce the need for hospitalizations and extend lives, will help us greatly to manage the burden of heart failure in Canada as our population ages."

At the meeting, participants examined the latest clinical data on new therapies and optimal patient management strategies for various heart failure types and patient subgroups, as well as practical approaches to patient care. They also looked at the role of genetics in the disease, treatment guidelines, as well as the role of specialized clinics and nurses in treating heart failure.

Heart failure in Canada

Heart failure is a complex disorder resulting in the heart not being able to pump sufficient blood to meet the body's demands. It reduces patient quality of life and exercise tolerance by causing them to have shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling of legs and cognitive impairment, among other symptoms.iv More than 600,000 Canadians have heart failure.v It is responsible for about nine per cent of all deaths in Canadavi or about 22,000 per year,vii which is more than the deaths from breast, colon and prostate cancer combined.viii It is the second leading cause of hospitalization in patients over 65 years of age.ixThese patients generally stay longer in hospital than others and the 30-day hospital readmission rate for Canadian heart failure patients is 21%, creating an additional burden.x

Heart Failure Update 2015
Heart Failure Update 2015 was held May 28-30 in Montreal with the theme, "The Art and Science of Heart Failure Treatment." It was hosted by the Canadian Heart Failure Society (CHFS) in cooperation with the Quebec Heart Failure Society, the Canadian Cardiovascular Society, the Association of Quebec Cardiologists and the Canadian Cardiac Transplant Network.

The Canadian Heart Failure Society
The Canadian Heart Failure Society, an affiliate of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society, was founded in 2011 to promote education and research by Canadian health professionals in heart failure and to administer and update Canadian treatment guidelines for heart failure.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------i University of Ottawa Heart Institute, "Canada's Silent Epidemic," press release, April 24, 2015, accessed at:
ii University of Ottawa Heart Institute, Cardiac Function Laboratory, Overview, Dr. Peter Liu, Director, accessed at:
iii Blais C, et al. Assessing the burden of hospitalized and community-care heart failure in Canada. Can J Cardiol. 2014 Mar; 30(3):352-8.
iv Cardiac Care Network of Ontario, Strategy for Community Management of Heart Failure in Ontario, February 2014, p. 13, accessed at:
v Blais C, et al. Assessing the burden of hospitalized and community-care heart failure in Canada. Can J Cardiol. 2014 Mar; 30(3):352-8.
vi Canadian Heart Failure Network, Rationale for HF Clinics – The Problem: HF, accessed at: citing Brophy JM. Epidemiology of congestive heart failure: Canadian data from 1970 to 1989. Can J Cardiol 1992; 8:495-498.
vii 9% of total deaths in 2011 (242,074) from Statistics Canada, Leading Causes of deaths in Canada, 2009, CANSIM Table 102-0561 at:
viii Canadian Cancer Society's Advisory Committee on Cancer Statistics. Canadian Cancer Statistics 2014, p. 45, Toronto: Canadian Cancer Society; 2014, at:
ix Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), A Snapshot of Health in Canada as Demonstrated by Top 10 Lists, 2011, p. 10, accessed at:
x Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), All-Cause Readmission to Acute Care and Return to the Emergency Department, 2012, p. 8, accessed at:

SOURCE Canadian Heart Failure Society

Video with caption: "Video: Dr. Jonathan Howlett discusses heart failure". Video available at:

For further information: Ellen Woodger,, 416-483-2358

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