CRY International Medical Conference 2018

Just as CRY’s screening programme continues to grow around the UK, so too does our standing in the medical community worldwide. Every year our International Medical Conference is a terrific event, giving our doctors an opportunity to present their latest research and for us to connect with other leading experts. 2018 was no different.

Professor Sanjay Sharma introduced the conference and gave the opening talk about the role of CT coronary angiography in veteran athletes. CRY myheart cardiologist Dr Michael Papadakis looked at hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). All individuals are different, but Dr Papadakis discussed different exercise recommendations for athletes with HCM and the ideal amounts of aerobic and static exercise. He made a few strong closing points as well, including that there is “no clear association between HCM and exercise as a trigger of arrhythmias”.

CRY Consultant Cardiologist Professor Sanjay Sharma

Several previous and current CRY Research Fellows gave fantastic presentations, including Dr Sabiha Gati (management of athletes with myocarditis); Dr Gherardo Finocchiaro (idiopathic left ventricular hypertrophy); Dr Stathis Papatheodorou (sudden adult death syndrome and research from CRY’s Centre for Inherited Cardiac Conditions); Dr Aneil Malhotra (sudden cardiac death in football players being a bigger issue than previously thought); and Dr Hamish MacLachlan (CRY’s screening programme, what has developed and what we have learned).

CRY Research Fellow Dr Stathis Papatheodorou

This year we had a number of highly renowned international speakers fly in to contribute to the conference. This was a first for Professor Antonio Pelliccia from Rome, Italy, and the 12th time for Professor Domenico Corrado from Padova, Italy, who has only missed one conference since the first one in 2006. These are two of the most influential cardiologists in the world of cardiac screening and sports cardiology. Dr Jonathon Drezner, Seattle, USA, also attended for the second time, almost a decade since he last presented, during which time there have been significant changes in the US and internationally. Professor Pelliccia spoke about exercise for athletes with cardiomyopathies and how recommendations vary depending on different diagnoses and risk profiles. Professor Mats Börjesson, Gothenburg, Sweden, also looked at exercise recommendations for athletes, but for those with ischaemic heart disease, which can increase the chance of sudden cardiac death (SCD) 2-56 times from physical activity.

After the first break of the day, Professor Domenico Corrado gave a presentation on myocardial fibrosis in athletes. Dr Belinda Gray followed, discussing some of her research into SADS and the use of molecular autopsy.

Dr Jonathon Drezner

Dr Drezner gave the longest talk of the day and shared some of his expertise from working with a variety of sports teams, such as the Seattle Seahawks of the NFL. It was extremely encouraging to hear of the growing argument in the USA for using cardiac screening. Foolishly, SCD has been disregarded by some for being no more likely than a death from a lightning strike. But Professor Drezner shot that mindset down – for college athletes in the States, SCD is actually 200 times more likely. Professor Drezner discussed how screening can prevent deaths in young people, and research on the rate of deaths in athletes, especially black athletes, being higher. For instance, men’s basketball (a particularly high-risk sport for those with a condition due to its intensity and explosive movements) accounts for only 4% of male National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) athletes, but nearly 20% of all NCAA SCD cases.

“If you came to me with an ankle sprain, I might want to screen you,” Professor Drezner remarked. This kind of support is exactly what we need to further the way people value and utilise ECG screening overseas.

Following the day’s presentations, the case sessions panelled by Professor Sharma, Professor Corrado, Professor Pelliccia, Professor Drezner, Professor Börjesson and Dr Maite Tome were the next integral part of the conference. The case sessions on electrical disease, cardiomyopathies and structural disease were a brilliant way to bring discussion into the conference centre, test those in attendance, and see how different experts would approach specific conditions in young people. These sessions put theory into practice, adding a valuable dynamic after the morning’s talks.

To bring the day to a close, CRY Research Fellow Dr Chris Miles took to the stage with a thoughtful, creative ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’ style quiz. It was a perfect end to the day, lightening the mood yet reinforcing what had been presented and discussed through the conference to put everyone on the spot quickly before departing.

We are incredibly proud of our CRY Research Fellows, past and present, for all the work they do to further our understanding of young sudden cardiac death. CRY’s research and position in the medical community simply couldn’t progress without it. Thank you to all of them for their presentations at this year’s conference, and to all of our international speakers for making the effort to join us and share their insight.

Finally, many thanks to our sponsors Equivital and Radcliffe Cardiology, and also to our exhibitors GE Healthcare, Sanofi and Rightangled.