EAS press conference

Published
Monday, April 24, 2017

How defeat atherosclerosis? Leading health-care professionals discuss in Prague City the key research data with one aim: to improve health care and save lives.

More than 2000 leading health-care professionals and key-opinion leaders come together to Prague to the prestigious 85th Annual Congress EAS. They discuss the results of landmark studies changing clinical practice and share experience with prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases. Last in the region in 2005, the EAS congress is welcome back in Prague after twelve years. The one of key topics is Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), the most prevalent congenital disorder of the lipid metabolism with serious health consequences: premature heart attacks and strokes. Czech republic is at the cutting edge in detection of people affected by FH.

85th EAS Congress in Prague brings a great opportunity for public health education. The Atherosclerosis Week focused on life-style and cardiovascular prevention takes place during the Congress. The Tent of Prevention is located outside the front side of Prague Congress Centre from 24th to 25th April. There, a group of physicians, nutritive therapists, nurses and other professionals is ready to advise and recommend the best action to improve life-style, exercise and diet. Healthy strolls and nordic walking trails through the beautiful Vysehrad site are prepared, not only for congress attendees, but also for the general public. Accompanying public programme will continue till Saturday 29th April.

The Czech Society for Atherosclerosis (CSAT) hosts of 85th EAS Congress, the most relevant annual meeting of lipidology. „This congress is a unique opportunity to meet the best professionals from the whole world. The Czech republic and CSAT could be proud to organise such meeting,“ said Michal Vrablik, MD from 3rd Internal Clinic of General University Hospital in Prague and The head of CSAT.

The main aim of the Congress is building bridges between today’s research and tomorrow’s therapies in the diagnosis and treatment of atherosclerosis and related vascular disease, which are worldwide killers number one. „Good understanding of all developing factors of atherosclerosis is essential for successful fighting against its complications,“ stressed prof. Lale Tokgözoğlu, the new Head of EAS. „There is a clear evidence that long-term elevation of blood LDL cholesterol leads to seriouscomplications known as heart attacks and strokes. Thus the key is healthy life-style to prevent high levels of LDL cholesterol. If the levels are already elevated, the tailored pharmacotherapy is necessary. We know for sure that lower is better,“ she added. „Modern hypolipidemic therapy is very safe and effective,“ noted M. Vrablik and added, that despite positive trends cardiovascular diseases are the most frequent cause of death in the Europe including Czech republic.

The EAS annual Congress is great place where the results of recent studies with novel drugs could be discussed. Actually so called PCSK9 inhibitors (evolocumab, alirocumab) represent the new hope for patients suffer from high levels of blood cholesterol resistant to standard pharmacotherapy. These novel drugs are already approved in the USA and EU for these patients. Inhibitors PCSK9 are administered as subcutaneous injection every two or four weeks. During this therapy are LDL cholesterol levels decreased by about 60 % given as monotherapy or on top of statins. „This effect is the best that has been still achieved with lipid lowering drugs and the therapy is safe and without side effects,“ said M. Vrablik.

Inhibitors PCSK9 could help patients born with lipid metabolism condition called familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), which is also principal issue of EAS Congress. These people suffer from high cholesterol levels since their childhood. If they are not diagnosed soon enough, they are in high risk of early heart attacks or strokes. Due to recent data the prevalence of FH is higher than expected: one person in 250 or 200 could be affected. It means about 34 mil. persons worldwide. „The first and crucial step how to fight against FH is early diagnosis of all affected family members. EAS devotes great attention to the problem and set up so called FH Studies Collaboration – FHSC, a global activity bringing together experts from more than sixty countries worldwide. The goal of FHSC is to develop awareness about FH and to collect all relevant data about FH diagnostics and therapy in individual countries,“ said prof. Kausik Ray (Imperial College London), the Head of FHSC. FH is underdiagnosed in the vast majority of countries and most patients with FH don’t achieve target values of LDL cholesterol. Analysis of key data collected by FHSC could improve this situation. Czech republic is a member of FHSC and has a long tradition of FH screening. Thanks to the MedPed Project (with extensive network of more than 60 medical departments) is detected about 15 % of the estimated number of people with FH in Czech rep. (Only in Netherlands and Norway are better outcomes reached).

Patients organisations are helping continuously to raise awareness about FH. Mrs. Gabriele Hanauer-Mader founded the FH advocacy group in Austria in 2004 after her daughter was diagnosed with severe heterozygous FH at the age of four. At that time, there was no FH advocacy group in the German-speaking countries – so Gabriele together with another mother of FH child from Germany founded later, in 2011, patient organisation FHchol Austria and its german counterpart CholCo. About the same time in 2011 other international FH patient organisations were mushrooming up – in the United States the FH Foundation emerged. So it was only a logical consequence to seek closer cooperation between the European FH patient organisations to reach common goals and get stronger by speaking in one voice. Accordingly, the idea of a network of European FH patient organizations in the presence of representatives of Heart UK, FH Sweden, FH Portugal, FH Norway and FHchol Austria was born in London in February 2015. The FH Europe charity was officially established on Dec. 13, 2016. At the moment, FH Europe unites more than 20 members including Czech organisation Diagnoza FH lead by FH patient Zdenka Cimicka. „Our missions include raising awareness of FH to prevent premature cardiovascular diseases induced by FH, help fledgling FH advocacy groups in Europe to establish powerful patient organisations, PR and political lobbying, support FH registries and cascade screening programs in the respective countries, etc.,“ said G. Hanauer-Mader.

For more informations: www.athero.cz, www.eas-society.org.