News from the third day of the ESC Congress

31 August 2015        


Monday was the third day of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress - the world's biggest gathering of cardiovascular researchers and medics. The conference is being held in London and is generating lots of media interest. Here are our highlights of that news.

One major area of research interest, particularly when it comes to our funding, is studying whether existing drugs or treatments are effective, safe and being received by as many people who would benefit as possible. Since we have no vested interest in any particular medicine or treatment we regularly fund studies to compare different drugs or provide information on the longer term impacts of a treatment.

Should people with heart failure take aspirin?

A Danish study at the ESC Congress looked at whether routine use of aspirin by people with heart failure might cause more harm than good. Heart failure affects over half a million people in the UK and can be hugely debilitating. There is no cure at the moment and effective treatments are limited.

The researchers found that in people with heart failure and a normal heart rhythm that aspirin has no benefit, even when the heart failure was caused by coronary heart disease. Commenting on the results, our Medical Director, Professor Peter Weissberg, said: "Aspirin isn't a recommended treatments for heart failure in the UK unless the person also has coronary heart disease, putting them at increased risk of a heart attack."

He added: "This study suggests that aspirin can cause more harm than good in people with heart failure. And like all medicines, there are risks associated with aspirin, as well as benefits. Any person taking aspirin should discuss with their doctor whether the benefits for them outweigh any risks."

We launched our Mending Broken Hearts Appeal to raise funds for regenerative medicine research into new treatments for heart failure.

Heart attack dangers on weekends and out of hours

A man clutching his chest in pain as if he is having a heart attack. A woman stands by him, concerned, with her arms on his shoulders.Researchers from Aston University and Aston Medical School in Birmingham and North Western Deanery in Manchester compared the outcomes of people admitted to hospital with a suspected heart attack during working hours with those admitted out of hours and at weekends.

The study involved analysing the medical records of 25,000 patients from seven hospitals between 2000 and 2013. The data showed that those admitted to hospital with a heart attack on weekends or out of working hours stayed in hospital longer and were more likely to die.

Professor Peter Weissberg said: "The conclusion that death rates for patients admitted with a suspected heart attack are highest outside of standard working hours and at weekends has been drawn in numerous studies in recent years. This evidence is now being used to inform the plans to reconfigure the NHS into a 24/7 health service and improve around the clock provision of heart attack care."

He added: "While it's imperative that people receive the same high standard of care regardless of when they present to hospital, we should acknowledge the huge improvements in heart attack care in the UK, which has seen death rates more than halve over the last ten years."

Find out more about how our medical records can help research that saves lives.

Cancer and heart failure

Blood dripTwo studies at the congress highlighted the link between cancer treatments and heart failure. One showed how some treatments can lead to heart failure if patients are not monitored properly and another found that measuring for the troponin protein can provide a warning sign of heart failure developing on people being treated for cancer.

Professor Peter Weissberg said: "We've known for some time that many cancer treatments have adverse effects on the heart. This means that as more people survive cancer, more and more people are being left with debilitating heart conditions. This research shows how devastating this can be, with many cancer patients diagnosed with heart failure - a condition for which there is no cure - dying within 12 months.

"This research does suggest that a blood test for troponin - a protein secreted from the heart when it's damaged - could act as an indicator of heart muscle damage for cancer patients allowing treatments to be better managed to limit heart failure.

"However, this is still an area we know very little about. We need to fund far more research to better understand how cancer treatments can lead to heart failure, so we can improve treatments and give both cancer and heart failure patients the best possible chance of survival."

Help us fund more research into heart failure by donating to our Mending Broken Hearts Appeal.