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September Heart Month:

Posted on Friday, 18 September 2015 15:47

 Message from the Heart and Stroke Foundation : 7 ways to spring clean your heart


7 steps to spring clean your heart.pdf 282.2K 18 Sep 15 15:47

Cardio update for non-cardiologists at SA Heart Congress 2015

Posted on Tuesday, 15 September 2015 16:22

The annual cardio update workshop for non-cardiologists will be hosted by SA Heart Congress 2015 on Sunday, 25 October at Sun City.  


Partnered with Servier, and held in association with The Heart Failure Society of South Africa (HeFSSA), this comprehensive, pre-congress, post-graduate course targets primarily physicians and general practitioners, and is free of charge.


Scheduled to run from 13h00 – 17h45, the course is followed by the official opening of SA Heart Congress 2015 at 18h00, and then a “Night Food Market Theme” and trade preview in the Superbowl from 19h00 – 21h00.


This year’s topics will cover:

  •        How to perform a useful stress ECG in one’s practice
  •        An interactive ECG session
  •        What primary care physicians need to know about pulmonary hypertension
  •        Difficult to treat hypertension in clinical practice
  •        When to use, and how to interpret commonly used blood tests in cardiac disease
  •        Stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation 
  •        The current perspective on euthanasia


Presenters include subject matter experts, Drs Gideon Visagie, Martin Mpe, Eric Klug, Nico van der Merwe, Ronnie Jardine, Brian Vezi and Elsabe de Kok.


“As in the past, this will be an interactive workshop,” says HeFFSA vice-president, Dr Martin Mpe. “It will provide general practitioners and physicians with up-to-date theoretical and practical knowledge regarding current aspects of cardiology of specific relevance to their practices.” 


For full programme details, and to register for the cardio update, post-graduate course, visit http://saheartcongress2015.co.za. For queries, contact Europa Organisation Africa on (011) 325 0020, or email enquiries@eoafrica.co.za

Last updated Tuesday, 15 September 2015 16:26

Feedback from the ESC Congress

Posted on Monday, 31 August 2015 14:30

On the first day of the ESC Congress in London, the joint ESC and SA Heart symposium on HIV related pericardial and myocardial diseases was well attended by both the South African and overseas delegates. Prof Karen Sliwa representing SA Heart, and Prof Sabine Pankuweit of Germany chaired this interesting session which highlighted the difference in disease presentation and comorbidities between Africa and European countries. The presentations by the ESC complement to the symposium discussed possible mechanisms for the direct pathogenesis of the myocardium in HIV affected patients. Prof Karin Klingel showed that whether viral or auto immune, the pathogenesis leads to a far more rapid deterioration in the affected myocardium in HIV patients than in HIV negative patients. Prof Boccara reiterated that myocarditis prevalence in France was particularly high in HIV patients and discussed possible mechanisms for this.

Our International member from Cameroon, Dr Anastase Dzudie Tamdja presented on an unusual case recorded in the Cape Flats, and this led to some very lively interaction from the floor regarding the presentation, treatment and drug regimen used in this particular patient who refused hospital admission. Prof Andrew Sarkin from University of Pretoria, and Chair of the SA Heart Full time Salaried Practice committee, spoke about the impact that the prevailing HIV pandemic has had in the last 20 years on Sub-saharan Africa where 2/3 rds of the global burden of HIV infected people live (22 million people of the estimated 30 million infected people live in Subsaharan Africa). South Africa has the highest number of HIV infected people in the world; over 6 million of which an estimated 3 million are on ARV's (the largest program of its kind in the world). Research suggests that the high prevalence of HIV infection in South Africa is linked to inter-generational heterosexual activity rather than drug abuse as seen in developed countries. The costs and socioeconomic impact of this is profound (estimated at R14 Billion on ARV costs and total health costs of R25 Billion) with a massive impact on the country's mortality and maternal mortality in pregnancy (recently as high as 300/100 000 cases). This can be seen in the newly available population death statistics which show an enormous increase in mortality of women in the age group 20-35 until the year 2004 when ART was finally instituted in the State health system which serves the majority of the population in South Africa. Prof Sarkin highlighted the unusually high prevalence of infective pericarditis which is unique to the SA HIV positive population.


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Dedicated programme for paediatric cardiologists throughout SA Heart Congress 2015

Posted on Thursday, 20 August 2015 21:14

Paediatric cardiology will feature prominently at SA Heart Congress 2015, with a dedicated track running daily from Sunday, 25 – Wednesday, 28 October, at Sun City in North West Province.

A wide spread of important interventional and surgical aspects will be covered during the congress, with delegates benefiting from the input of international experts, Dr Naser Ammash (Mayo Clinic, USA), Associate Professor Christian Brizard (Australia) and Dr Elchanan Bruckheimer (Israel). Local faculty will include heads of cardiology at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, Chris Hani Baragwanath, the University of KZN, Walter Sisulu University and the University of the Free State.

Post-graduate course on paediatric heart failure

The paediatric programme commences on Sunday afternoon, October 25, with a pre-congress post-graduate course focusing on paediatric heart failure. A workshop format will be used to generate open discussion with prominent local paediatric cardiologists who will review important new approaches and therapies becoming available for children with cardiac failure.

Dr Ammash will highlight advances in echocardiography that are being used to evaluate and monitor heart failure in adults, and may also be of benefit to children. Modern treatment with biventricular pacing will be discussed, with Associate Professor Brizard ending the session by giving a perspective on the surgical advances available for treatment – from left ventricular assist devices to cardiac transplant.

The AGM for the Paediatric Cardiac Society of South Africa (PCSSA) will be held immediately after the course from 17h00 – 18h00, with the Congress being officially opened at 18h00, followed by a “Night Food Market Theme ” and trade preview  in the Superbowl from 19h00 - 21h00.

The African Perspective

On Monday, 26 October, the opening plenary Ethics Session of the Congress will focus on service delivery, training and research perspectives pertinent to paediatric cardiology in South Africa.

Children’s Hearts inSight

In the combined paediatric cardiology-cardiothoracic sessions of the congress, modern interventions and surgical methods will be reviewed and the latest data explored.

In the GE-imaging session on Monday afternoon, practical applications of modern 3-dimensional echocardiography will be addressed and Dr Bruckheimer, a leader in rotational and 3-dimensional angiography will share his experience with delegates.  A step-by-step demonstration on how to do foetal cardiac ultrasound will be given by Dr Jeff Harrisberg and Dr Ammash will highlight aspects in the echocardiographic evaluation of an athlete’s heart.

On Tuesday, October 27, the paediatric session from 08h30 – 10h25 will focus on the best treatment for aortic coarctation in all age groups and look at world registries. Associate Professor Brizard will also shed light on the surgical components of these difficult to treat conditions.

The session from 11h00 – 12h30 will feature a potpourri of topics, with the focus on Tuesday afternoon being on double outlet right ventricles (14h00 – 15h30).

A number of local researchers will share their findings in between talks. There will be an interesting provisional report on eye abnormalities found in paediatric cardiologists due to radiation exposure, as well as an excellent presentation on the outcome of radiofrequency ablation in a group of South African children.

The congress ends on Wednesday, October 28 at midday with a focus on the vexing and difficult to treat problem of pulmonary hypertension in children as well as practical “How do I perform…” sessions presented by prominent local interventionists.

For full programme details, and to register for SA Heart Congress and the pre-congress post-graduate course, visit http://www.saheart.org/congress2015 For queries, contact Europa Organisation Africa on (011) 325 0020, or email enquiries@eoafrica.co.za




Feedback from the CATHCHAT paediatric cardiac interventional workshop

Posted on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 19:38

CATHCHAT, an interactive paediatric interventional cardiac catheterisation workshop, was held at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in the last week of July. The aims of CATHCHAT were:

  1.        to reduce the number of patients on our catheterisation waiting list
  2.        to teach paediatric cardiac catheterisation to “those with more enthusiasm than experience.”
  3.        to broadcast all proceedings live from the cath lab to an audience in an on-campus auditorium as well as those logged on online.


Approximately 40 delegates, including a strong faculty representing all the paediatric cardiology centres in South Africa, as well as cardiologists from six other African countries attended the workshop. The overall theme was to present cases from simple to complex, with background lectures ranging from step-by-step descriptions of procedures to information and advice around the practice and art of interventional cardiac catheterisation.

In total 17 live cases were performed in four days. Broadcasts to the auditorium at Red Cross Hospital allowed for lively interaction with the cathing team; many very instructive cases were observed (read: one learns much from others’ mistakes). Unfortunately, that week a nationwide problem with Internet connectivity curtailed our Internet interaction and during the week, only 12 sites could log in.

Feedback has been very positive, with all requesting repeat workshops. Already we are planning another CATHCHAT for March 2016, when we will be hosting Dr Oliver Stumper from Birmingham Children’s Hospital, UK. Watch this space!


Dr Rik De Decker

Director: Cardiac Catheterisation Laboratory 


From left to right: Lenise Swnason, registrar at Red Cross Hospital working with Drs Gcina Dumani (from CH Baragwanath Hospital ) and Jeff Harrisberg (from Sunninghill Hospital), and  cathlab sister Charnette Elliott. 


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Last updated Thursday, 20 August 2015 21:10

Prof Karen Sliwa in the prestigious European Heart Journal

Posted on Monday, 20 July 2015 16:31

Congratulation to the SA Heart president, Prof. Karen Sliwa,  who has been profiled in the prestigious European Heart Journal (impact factor 15.3, top journal in the field of cardiology).

She has been identified as a Global Leader in Cardiovascular Medicine, with a special focus on Heart Disease in Africa. 

To read more about Prof Sliwa's career path, go to the article Dr Karen Sliwa: 'Out of Africa' from Germany via Japan, to become a leader of cardiac diseases in Africa

The article is of particular interest to young researchers as it entails specific advice on finding their passion for research and the importance of mentorship, or maybe you just want to find out more about our president and what motivates her.

Hearts inSight - SA Heart Congress 2015

Posted on Wednesday, 3 June 2015 19:00


New ‘insights’ into cardiology

The 16th Annual SA Heart Congress will be taking place this year at Sun City in the North West Province from Sunday, 25 October to Wednesday, 28 October.

With the theme of “Hearts inSight,” the 2015 Congress includes several sessions which will enhance delegates’ understanding of the new diagnostic procedures used for “sighting the heart”. A variety of presenters will explore the insights gained from innovative diagnostic technologies, the latest clinical trials, expert opinions and the heart team concept, and how that impacts on decision making and treatment of patients with cardiac disease. In addition to local experts, The congress will be hosting a leading international faculty from several countries.

Pre-congress post graduate courses  will be run for the individual Special Interest Groups on Sunday afternoon, focusing on their areas of specific interest which include paediatric cardiology, cardiac arrhythmia, heart failure, cardiac imaging, cardiovascular research, cardiothoracic surgery and the allied disciplines. A special post-graduate course has also been dedicated for non-cardiologists in order to give them a good overview of current developments in cardiology pertinent to their patients with cardiovascular problems.

These pre-congress sessions will culminate in AGMs for the respective societies, followed by the official opening of the congress and a preview of the trade exhibition to run alongside the congress on all three days.

Presentations on the development of cardiology and surgery in Africa will lead into sessions addressing the training of cardiac practitioners from the perspectives of both the private and public health sectors. Discovery CEO, Dr Jonathan Broomberg, will give a funder’s perspective on NHI and the private healthcare system, with a representative of the Ministry of Health, sharing views regarding cardiac medicine in South Africa. 

The challenges and adaptions needed for practising cardiology in the African environment will be the primary focus of the first plenary sessions on Monday, 26 October. Local and international experts will present on the state of the nation with regard to paediatric and adult cardiac disease, as well as cardiac surgery in South Africa and arrhythmia treatment in Africa.

A congress highlight on Tuesday, 27 October, will be the presentation of hot topics from ESC London 2015, with the African perspective being presented and discussed on each topic during two dedicated sessions. 

Mini symposia on Valvular Disease, TAVI and Infective Endocarditis will also take place on Tuesday. Dedicated multi-disciplinary Abstract Presentations, perfusion technology, Basic Sciences and Bio-engineering workshops are also scheduled for Tuesday.

Focused sessions on Wednesday morning, October 28, will address heart failure in the adult cardiac program and pulmonary hypertension in the paediatric sessions.

An exclusive track on paediatric cardiology will run for the full duration of the congress, with dedicated sessions for allied professionals taking place on both Monday and Tuesday afternoons.

“With a diversity of topics and speakers, delegates attending the 2015 SA Heart Congress will benefit from both international and local insights into the current issues confronting the South African and African cardiology community,” says congress convenor, Prof Francis Smit.  “International and local faculty will benefit tremendously from sharing the knowledge and experience gained from their respective backgrounds, making the congress a vibrant and interactive learning platform for all.”

The closing date for the submission of abstracts is 3 August.  Early bird registration discounts are available until 18 July.

Click here to go to the main website for more information


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AfricaPCR 2015 – Post Congress news release

Posted on Monday, 18 May 2015 14:31

AfricaPCR 2015 – a brief report back


 It is difficult to be a dispassionate observer at a PCR Course organised by Europa Organisation. Sessions are designed to stimulate audience participation and dialogue, and AfricaPCR 2015 exemplified that approach.

Held from the 26 – 28 March at The Forum, The Campus, in Bryanston, Johannesburg, the 2015 Course had an audible buzz with delegates being as interactive as the presenters, making for highly stimulating and informative sessions, with much take-home value.

Case studies were particularly interesting because they were not presented as “show and tell” exercises. Speakers presented the images pertaining to their respective cases, identified the challenges, but did not disclose how they had handled them. Instead, they invited the delegates to comment and debate how they would have treated the patient. Audience consensus or divergence regarding recommended strategies inevitably led to lively discussion, resulting in a “Yes” or “No” vote for specific procedures. Case studies were rounded off by the speakers disclosing how they actually treated their respective patients, with the chairman of the session summarising the learning points. One of the Course highlights was a special focus on radial PCI, with two workshops on each day being dedicated to how to start a radial programme, and the tips and tricks needed to succeed with radial PCI. The workshops were sponsored by Terumo, who complemented them with a model of radial access and a radial simulator which proved to be an irresistible key attraction.

Another highlight was a special focus on “setting up a new cath lab”. Discussion centred on what the basic requirements were for paediatric and adult cardiology diagnostic and interventional procedures in the cath lab.

When it came to tackling complications in the cath lab, Dr Otieno from Kenya aptly noted that if delegates hadn’t experienced complications yet, then they hadn’t used their cath labs sufficiently!  

  •          Fluoroscopic guidance was recommended in order to reduce the femoral access site complication rate.
  •          Prof Jean Marco said that coronary perforation and pericardial tamponade were rare, with a frequency of less than 0.2% in PCI. He noted that 51% of                     perforations were guidewire related, making it vital to image the position of the guidewire.
  •          The success rate in retrieving wandering stents and foreign bodies was approximately 70 – 90% when snares were used.  
  •          In the case of STEMI or cardiogenic shock, delegates were advised to call for assistance from cardiothoracic colleagues.
  •          They were also encouraged to initiate a quality improvement programme by keeping records of complications that occurred in the cath lab and how they                were resolved.

A few major challenges were identified with regard to establishing more cath labs, or better functioning cath labs, in Africa.

A shortage of equipment, or inadequate maintenance of equipment, appeared to be a common problem in some countries. There are currently 14 cath labs in Sudan, for example, but none with the equipment needed to do FFR.

Angola has four cath labs, with only two being functional. The reason is that the equipment suppliers and technicians are based in another country. Thus, it is clearly imperative to secure the servicing and maintenance of equipment as a contractual obligation when signing a deal with an industry partner based elsewhere.

Securing the funding to establish additional cath labs was clearly a challenge throughout the continent. Based on personal experience, Prof Mpiko Ntsekhe from UCT Medical School recommended engaging with politicians in order to advocate for the establishment of new cath labs. He cited the opening of Namibia’s first cath lab a few years ago as an example, where politicians had been actively lobbied for support, with both Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Sam Nujoma having attended the opening ceremony.

 Dr Bourlon drew on his experience in Mauritania in order to identify what the basic requirements were for setting up a functional cath lab. These included having enough space and sufficient ventilation, adequate cooling for the equipment, no toilets near the lab, and adequate after-sales service. There was also consensus amongst delegates about access to echocardiograms being imperative.

Dr Bourlon recommended having cardiothoracic surgery on site, but pointed out that many cath labs operated in Europe without them, with interventionists having accommodated themselves to a higher risk environment.

The 2016 AfricaPCR Course will expand on the 2015 edition and course director, Dr Farrel Hellig says that “It will aim to be even more inclusive with participation from as much of the African continent as possible. Education and resource development in the continent is clearly needed and AfricaPCR serves as a spring-board.”




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ACC meeting 2015

Posted on Monday, 23 March 2015 15:14

Dr Anthony Dalby summarizes his impressions of the ACC congress 2015


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SA Heart National Council Meeting

Posted on Thursday, 26 February 2015 10:45

Besides planning to keep the ears closer to the ground and survey members of where they think SA Heart could add more value, for the next few months council members together with their committees will be involved inter alia in liasing with the committee of the essential drug list to review the recommendations under cardiac care, review the output of cardiology training in South Africa and establish a market value of SA Heart as brand.

From left to right in the picture:
Dr Andrew Thornton (president CASSA)
Dr Adriaan Snyders (immediate past president, SA Heart and editor of SA Heart Newsletter)
Prof Mpiko Ntskehe (Chair, SHARE registry committee, SA Heart)
Prof Francis Smit (Treasurer, SA Heart, here also representing Bloemfontein Regional Branch)
Prof Karen Sliwa ( President, SA Heart)
Dr Robbie Kleinloog (Secretary, SA Heart and President, Surgical Interest Group)
Dr Liesl Zühlke (President, PCSSA)
Prof Andrew Sarkin (Chair: Fulltime Salaried Practice Committee)
Prof Anton Doubell (Editor, SA Heart Journal, here also representing CISSA)
Dr Martin Mpe (Chair: Education Committee, SA Heart, here also representing Pretoria Regional Branch)
Dr Sajidah Khan (President, SA Heart KZN Regional Branch, here also representing SASCI)
Prof Sandrine Lecour (President, SASCAR)
Dr Eric Klug (President HeFSSA)
Dr Jean Paul Theron (Chair: Private Practice Committee, SA Heart)
Dr Les Osrin (Chair: Ethics and Guidelines Committee, SA Heart)
Not in Photo: Dr David Jankelow (Vice president, SA Heart and president Johannesburg Regional Branch)


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