To Members of the Heart Failure Society of America:
As we approach the end of 2021 and beginning of 2022, SARS-CoV-2 stubbornly refuses to relax its grip on the world, and at times, it is hard to think of anything besides the COVID-19 pandemic. However, in this message, I am going to do just that, reflecting back on 2021 and specifically, three highlights related to our discipline.
1. HFSA Annual Scientific Meeting
After a hiatus in 2020, the heart failure community gathered in September for the HFSA Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM). In my conversations with members about ASM, this reunion in Denver was cathartic, a needed coming together of friends and professional colleagues to catch up both on the latest advances in our field as well as developments in our personal and professional lives. Outside the meeting rooms, warm greetings, hugs, and laughter were plentiful. For those of you who were not able to join in person and want to get a sense of what the event was like, or even those who did attend but want to relive the memories, you can view the ASM Sights and Sounds video and gallery of photos from the meeting. If you are interested in catching up on the science presented, the virtual meeting platform is still online and open both for registered attendees and those who did not attend but now want to sign up for access.
2. Sodium-Glucose Co-transporter Inhibitors
An incredible story of a novel therapeutic class of medications for our patients with heart failure is unfolding in front our eyes with major chapters being written in 2021. Inhibitors of the sodium-glucose co-transporter, agents designed to improve glycemic control, previously were shown to reduce the risk of developing heart failure in patients with type 2 diabetes. In 2020, data emerged that they improved outcomes in patients with heart failure and reduced ejection fraction, whether they had diabetes or not. This year, we learned that the benefits of the medications also extend to two populations of patients with heart failure that previously had proven largely resistant to therapeutic advances: those with preserved ejection faction (EMPEROR-Preserved, PRESERVED-HF, and CHIEF-HF) and those with acute decompensated heart failure (SOLOIST-WHF, EMPULSE). While it remains uncertain how these medications improve outcomes, and additional clinical trials are ongoing to support the findings already reported, the current evidence is compelling and suggests that these therapies will be foundational components of guideline-directed medical therapy for patients with heart failure throughout its broad continuum (both chronic and decompensated heart failure, irrespective of the LVEF).
3. Journal of Cardiac Failure
A new editorial leadership team for our society’s official journal, the Journal of Cardiac Failure (JCF), has been in place for approximately one year, and what a year it has been! The assembled team is notable for its remarkable energy and diversity across many domains including gender, race/ethnicity, geography, and discipline. Indeed, diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging have become core principles of their efforts. They also have skillfully used social media to amplify content outside the traditional boundaries of journal pages.
Another of their noteworthy initiatives has been an emphasis on the patient journey. One remarkable example was an article entitled “The Quiet Place” by Kristin Flanary, also known on Twitter as @LGlaucomflecken. Ms. Flanary’s husband, Dr. Will Flanary (@DGlaucomflecken), is an ophthalmologist and comedian who has a broad Twitter following (463,500 followers as of 12/13/2021) where he posts humorous videos about the medical profession. Dr. Flanary suffered a cardiac arrest in May 2020 while sleeping at home and Ms. Flanary called 911 and performed CPR while awaiting arrival of the EMS team. Fortunately, Dr. Flannery had an excellent outcome. For those of you who have not yet done so, I’d strongly suggest you read her moving article and listen to the attached audio file in the supplement, which is the recording of the actual 911 call she made. You also can watch a full-length interview with the Flanarys on the JCF YouTube channel. Collectively, this content is one example of how JCF is providing information for our members that not only emphasizes the experiences of the patient and their loved ones, but also is current and compelling.
Of course, the science being presented in JCF is paramount to their efforts, and already topical and meaningful articles have emerged, including a focus issue on critical care, outstanding state-of-the-art reviews (e.g., hemodynamics, sex differences in heart failure, and innovations in heart transplant), and Scientific Statements (COVID-19, endomyocardial biopsy). The quality of the original research articles is increasing with each monthly issue. The success of this team in such short order, building upon the strong foundation they inherited from prior editorial teams, was a highlight of this past year for me.
2021 has been a remarkable year, a testament to our resiliency in the face of a formidable viral adversary. For those willing, I’d be interested in hearing about the events in 2021, as related to the field of heart failure, that stood out to you as being memorable.
Wishing all a wonderful holiday season and New Year!
Mark H. Drazner, MD, MSc, FHFSA
HFSA President 2021-2022