Beijing 2010

It was held in Beijing, China, in recent days the World Congress of Cardiology, an event which was attended by ten thousand cardiologists from more than 150 countries. Heart Friends Around The World, an international association founded in Bergamo, Italy, in 1994, were present with their own booth, promoting activities for prevention and rehabilitation of cardiovascular disease, especially in developing countries.
Particular interest was aroused by the school of cardiology just attended at San Pellegrino Terme, Bergamo, Italy, by young African cardiologists.
Contacts have been established to repeat this experience, with the same principles, in 2011. It could be held in Canada, at the Institute of Cardiology in Ottawa directed by Prof. J. George Fodor, and in Spain, in the Catalan region, thanks to the contribution of Dr. Susanna Sans. Both of them are linked to Heart Friends Around The World and are prestigious figures in the international cardiology scenario.
During the congress there have been several press conferences. Among the most interesting news reported, it has now been established that, for women, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and that, considering also stroke and hypertensive heart disease with coronary artery disease, the percentage at which women suffer for heart disease is similar to the one of male patients.
But, since these data are underestimated, only few of them carry out effective prevention activities, as it can be seen from the data regarding smoking: while this risk factor is reducing among men, it is stable among women.
Diabetes and obesity are increasingly characterized as the diseases of our society, both in rich and in poor countries. Passive smoking, which is introduced into the lungs by remaining in environments where smokers are present, is now considered as active smoking in causing related diseases: in fact, although the inhaled quantity is less, the exposure time is often longer.
It was presented also an interesting research about erectile dysfunction, which is often present in males in the six months prior to a major cardiovascular event as myocardial infarction.
The hope comes from tissue engineering, investigated in China according to the work of Dr. LV-An Lin, who has proposed a model to repair the infarct scar and replace it with heart like tissue obtained by creating in laboratory cells similar to heart cells and derived from mesenchymal cells.
The most discussed lecture was the one of Prof. Yusuf Salim, Director of the Research Institute of Population Health. He presented the Polipill, a new pill that contains small amounts of aspirin, ACE inhibitor, beta-blockers and statin, that are those drugs that are commonly used in higher dosage to treat hypertension and high value of cholesterol and to prevent clots in the vascular system. The aim of this new product was to foster low cost pharmacological treatment in poor countries, where drugs are normally present on the market at a price too high and therefore not affordable. The interesting research data, obtained from a study that involves also the Italian Mario Negri Institute, underline the peculiar effectiveness of this drug composition, which has additional effects if compared to the ones observed from the singularly taken drugs, together with more limited side effects due to the small amount of each pharmacological active principle present. It is therefore desirable the use of this medicine at low cost for secondary prevention in poor countries, in order to prevent the relapse of the disease. But another new interesting data is that if the Polipill was taken from a healthy population, aged more than 55 years, there would be a reduction of 80% of the incidence of cardiovascular disease. What does this mean? Is there the need of a pharmacological treatment also in primary prevention? Of course if a person could buy a medicine, leading to a reduction of 80% of the risk of getting heart disease, without the need for a medical prescription, without even consulting the cardiologist or the doctor, I think that many people in rich countries will buy the Polipill. The market always dictates the rules. The new expected data will be released during the next World Congress of Cardiology, which will be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in 2012.
Flavio Burgarella
Founder and Executive Director Heart Friends