News from the fourth day of the ESC conference

1 September 2015        

A small girl drinks a glass of water

Tuesday was the fourth day of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress - the world's biggest gathering of cardiovascular researchers and medics.  

Here are our highlights of the news coming from Tuesday's conference sessions.

Do fizzy drinks cause heart problems?

A Japanese study presented at the conference looked at the amount of money spent on fizzy drinks in certain areas of Japan and then compared this with the amount of cardiac arrests occurring in these regions. They found that in areas where the most money was spent on fizzy drinks the rate of cardiac arrests was higher. 

However, the study does not show that fizzy drinks cause cardiac arrests. Our Medical Director, Professor Peter Weissberg, said:

"This study merely shows a mathematical relationship between the amount spent on fizzy drinks and the number of cardiac arrests in different areas of Japan. However, this is not the same as saying that the consumption of fizzy drinks leads to heart disease or cardiac arrest."

"We already know that sweet drinks can lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes, which is a major cause of heart disease."

Find out more about healthy eating and drinking here.

A breakthrough in treating high blood pressure.

A team of UK researchers, funded by the BHF, have conducted a trial to find the best medications to use to treat people with high blood pressure, a condition also known as hypertension

Blood pressure assessment

Hypertension effects 30 per cent of people in the UK. The disease puts people at risk of heart disease and stroke

The research showed that by combining two drugs -- which are already used separately – doctors can manage people’s blood pressure and bring it down to safer levels.


10 per cent of people with hypertension don’t respond to standard treatments and their blood pressure remains very high. The research also shed light on treatment for these people by using a drug already used by doctors.

Professor Peter Weissberg, our Medical Director, said:  “Together these clinical trials show that inexpensive drugs that have been around for a long time are successful in treating high blood pressure. As these drugs are already used in clinical practice they should quickly be taken up and used to better manage patients with high blood pressure, who appeared resistant to standard medications.”

Find out more about BHF-funded research into high blood pressure here.

Statins before an operation could reduce cardiac complications.

Researchers from Brazil have found that statins may have the potential to reduce cardiac complications associated with undergoing non-cardiac surgery.

The researchers compared the number of patients suffering from cardiac complications after surgery who were given statins with those who were not. They found that, in this case, statins were associated with a 17 per cent reduction in cardiac complications.

Our Medical Director, Professor Peter Weissberg, said:

"One of the main complications of major surgery is the occurrence of heart attacks and strokes during or shortly after the operation. This large observational study showed that patients taking statins had fewer heart attacks and strokes following surgery than those not on statins suggesting that statins may protect surgical patients from cardiovascular events. But observational studies such as this are prone to biases that may lead to the wrong conclusion." 

"What we need now is a well-designed prospective study that compares statins with a placebo to determine whether or not statins really do protect patients undergoing surgery. Such a study, if positive, could lead to a cheap and effective way of reducing serious complication after surgery."

Find out more about statins here.