The first ‘new style’ annual conference of the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) took place 18 – 20 March 2018 in Barcelona – Spain. Previously the conference was called Europace and was organised in collaboration with Cardiostim. The EHRA conference focusses on electrophysiology and the management of cardiac arrhythmias and the relationship with other cardiovascular conditions and risk factors. The conference welcomed approximately 6000 healthcare professionals from 100 countries, and this first edition of the EHRA conference was a great success.
The three days were filled with interesting sessions with a diversity of topics. Oral anticoagulation is an important aspect in the management of cardiac arrhythmias to prevent thromboembolic complications such as a stroke. In a packed room, Professor Heidbuchel (Vice-President EHRA) presented the 2018 EHRA Practical Guide for the use of NOACs in patients with atrial fibrillation. This is an important document to guide health care professionals in e.g. decision making, management and follow-up in anticoagulation management. I very much encourage you to take look at the document (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29562325).
Another important topic is cognitive impairment in patients with cardiac arrhythmias. Given that the literature on this topic is scarce and the problem is underestimated and under-recognized in practice, it was very interesting to see the presentation on the EHRA expert consensus document on arrhythmias and cognitive impairment. The document highlights methods of assessments, the role for the health care professionals, as well as the role for imaging. There is still uncertainty as well as limited evidence in this area, but this guide will contribute to awareness and recognition of cognitive impairment in cardiac arrhythmias. For further reading please see the full consensus document: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29562326.
At the conference I presented a novel integrated pathway for screening of sleep apnea in patients with atrial fibrillation. We developed this pathway in collaboration with colleagues from Belgium and Australia, and we propose this pathway to increase awareness for (the screening of) sleep apnea which will contribute to improved outcomes in patients with atrial fibrillation (see figure).
In 2019 the EHRA conference will be held 17-19 March in Lisbon – Portugal.