25 September 2019

2019 ESC/ERS Congressses Travel Grant winners- meeting reports

The PVRI was pleased to award four educational Travel Grants, supported by GSK, to young PVD professionals from the UK to attend the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress, which was held in Paris, France from 31 August to 4 September 2019, and the ERS International Congress, held in Madrid, Spain, on 28 September to 2 October 2019. The PVRI grants included the registration fee to the Congress, all travel and accommodation expenses.

The winners were delighted to participate in these events, and reported the following:

Dr Hossam Fayed // Royal Free Hospital (London, UK)


'This year’s European Society of Cardiology Annual Congress was held in conjunction with the World Congress of Cardiology. This meant that in excess of 30,000 delegates from all over the globe have attended this year’s event making it arguably the biggest ever scientific meeting in the world of cardiology.

Over five days, there was a multitude of simultaneous sessions with different themes, which can make staying focused challenging. However, with good planning one can get unparalleled educational opportunities in such a compact time. Excellent organisation facilitated this with pre-designated themes that held in temporal and spatial proximity. 

Pulmonary hypertension is one of the few niches in the broad world of cardiology, but several designated sessions were very well attended. I was fortunate to get my abstract accepted among the very few selected for oral presentations. This was very well received and the feedback was outstanding and would be extremely useful in preparing the manuscript.

 The PVRI Travel Grant support in attending this year’s ESC was hugely welcomed and much appreciated.'

Nkemamaka Okonkwo // Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, UK

The ESC congress this year was one of the best in recent years with several key landmark trials being presented, namely DAPA-HF and COMPLETE study, with outstanding results that will ultimately impact the practice of cardiovascular medicine going forward. 

I was fortunate to be part of a study team headed by Dr Hossam Fayed & Dr Gerry Coghlan, the former of whom delivered an oral presentation of our work examining the validity of scleroderma-associated pulmonary arterial hypertension risk scoring systems and their survival long-term. The presentation was received well with valid lines of questioning that will invariably inform the upcoming written manuscript. 

From a pulmonary hypertension standpoint, there were certainly a lot of interesting talks and presentations with an emphasis on management and detection of chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension. The digital health area, a relatively new addition to the congress that is receiving great attention, also highlighted the emergence of modern technology in clinical practice.  I attended interesting presentations on gaming apps for pulmonary hypertension and use of wearable diagnostic technologies for arrhythmia and heart failure. There were also great hands-on sessions and practical tutorials on improving echocardiographic skills in assessing the right-sided chambers. In particular, I thoroughly enjoyed a session sponsored by Philipps called: “Right ventricle – the forgotten heart chamber? When and how should we analyse it?” which taught delegates how to employ 3D echo-based automatic right heart volumetry and strain packages to help clinicians monitor status of the right ventricle and right atrium respectively. 

I have to say many thanks to the PVRI for offering a wonderful opportunity to be amongst peers and colleagues from across the globe and ultimately gain new insights and knowledge on current practices in cardiovascular health worldwide.

Michael McGettrick // Golden Jubilee National Hospital (Scotland, UK)


I am very grateful to the PVRI for the opportunity to attend and participate at the ERS Congress in Madrid in October 2019.

 The meeting, over five days, had a wide range of research presentations and was attended by over 20,000 delegates. This allowed me to network with colleagues from institutes around the world, and further my knowledge of general respiratory conditions, more specifically, pulmonary vascular disease. I attended the presentation of the 2019 guidelines for the investigation and management of pulmonary embolus, presented by Prof Konstantinides and Prof. Meyer. This is produced in collaboration with both the European Respiratory Society and European Society of Cardiology. Not only did this focus on the new guidance of investigating unstable patients, but also gave recommendations on how to investigate and manage pulmonary embolus in pregnancy. This is of particular importance given that venous thromboembolism is currently the leading cause of mortality in pregnancy. It is with prompt and appropriate investigation that early management can be instituted, which will hopefully lead to improvements in mortality rates. I will take these lessons to my local place of work and, in sharing these with colleagues, hope to improve the care of patients. 

I attended a particularly beneficial small group meeting one evening, where some of the abstracts from congress were presented and discussed.  Of particular interest was the presentation on a study by Dr Kim, from California, assessing the efficacy of Novel Oral Anticoagulants (NOAC) in chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension. They demonstrated that there is an increased risk of recurrent thromboembolism in those using NOACs, compared to those using other anticoagulants. I am particularly interested in the diagnosis and management of chronic thromboembolic disease, with upcoming research in this area due to begin in the coming months. With NOACs now part of the acute pulmonary embolus guidelines, it is an important message that there should still be some caution in their use in chronic thromboembolic disease. 

I was fortunate enough to contribute at the Congress, with a late abstract accepted. I presented a thematic poster on the effect of exercise rehabilitation on cardiac function, measured by cardiac MRI, in patients with pre-capillary pulmonary hypertension. During this session, I was able to discuss the findings with colleagues from institutes in the UK, Europe and the USA. This was very useful to me, as the discussions stimulated further research ideas for our group. This has led me to reflect on the exact cause for the positive response to exercise has encouraged me to look further into this study to gain more definitive conclusions.

 My experience at the ERS congress has been overwhelmingly positive. The meeting was very well organized, and allowed me to update my knowledge and move my research ideas forward. Networking with colleagues will make forthcoming meetings more fruitful and potential for research collaborations in the future.

Geeshath Jayasekera // University Hospital, Monklands (Scotland, UK)

I am extremely grateful to the PVRI for providing me with an opportunity to attend the European Respiratory Congress 2019 in Madrid. 

I was fortunate to contribute to the congress, being a co-author in two abstracts, one of them being a poster discussion. The poster discussion was titled “Macitentan treatment improves the dysfunctional right ventricle in a sugen/hypoxic rat model of pulmonary hypertension”. During this session we discussed using cardiac MRI which is the gold standard in determining cardiac volumes and function in humans, in an experimental animal model of PH for determining treatment response to PH targeted therapy. Using cardiac MRI, we demonstrated that Macitentan improved CMR derived RV variables in this animal model. I was also a co-author in a late-breaking abstract presented as a thematic poster on the effect of exercise rehabilitation on cardiac function, measured by cardiac MRI, in patients with pre-capillary pulmonary hypertension.

The meeting also allowed to me to attend a wide range of research presentations both in pulmonary vascular diseases and in general respiratory medicine. I particularly enjoyed the State-of-the-Art session – pulmonary vascular diseases, in one of the talks during this session Dr Harm-Jan Bogaard discussed systemic consequences of pulmonary arterial hypertension. Also of interest was the evidence based discussion of using balloon pulmonary angioplasty in chronic thrombo-embolic PH delivered by Dr Irene Lang. 

ERS 2019 was very well organised and allowed me to update my knowledge in PH and in general respiratory medicine but also allowed me to network with colleagues from around the world which will form the basis for future research collaborations. 

I very much appreciate, and I am thankful to, the PVRI travel grant support which provided me with this wonderful opportunity.

'The PVRI is indebted to GSK for their continuing support, which allows us to support young clinicians to attend this event. Education is crucial in expanding knowledge of pulmonary vascular diseases, and our fight against this disease. We are delighted to be able to award these grants to these two young and dedicated PVD professionals. Congratulations to all.'

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