President, British Cardiovascular Society
A lot has changed in the last 100 years for cardiovascular care as we look back on progress made and towards the future of advancements to come.
When 16 senior doctors met on 22 April 1922 to form the Cardiac Club, the first cardiac society in the world, they could not have predicted that their small association would grow and become an international model for the development of standards in education and clinical practice.
One hundred years later, its success in spreading innovation has been echoed by the growth in cardiac societies around the world. The BCS will be celebrating international collaboration with a ‘Cardiology Around the World Day’ at our annual conference in June, where we will be joined by fellow societies across four continents.
Immense development of cardiology
The major developments over the last century, many of them first introduced to colleagues at our meetings and conferences, have revolutionised the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease. A century ago we couldn’t see inside the beating heart – now we can pinpoint minute changes in heart structure and function and use sophisticated imaging techniques to spot emerging heart problems.
The tremendous improvements in survival following a heart attack and the developments in treatment for heart disease are now joined by home monitoring equipment.
Pivotal time of change
The 1950s was a key time for the development of cardiology – the first heart bypass operation took place in the US in 1953 and the first pacemaker was planted into Swedish patient, Arne Larsson, in 1958. Progress has accelerated, particularly since the mid-80s. The discovery of clot-busting drugs and other treatments like coronary angioplasty – inserting a tiny stent (tube-shaped metallic scaffold device) to open a narrowed artery and improve anginal symptoms, were followed by devices to repair and replace worn out heart valves.
The tremendous improvements in survival following a heart attack and the developments in treatment for heart disease are now joined by home monitoring equipment, enabling doctors to observe the patient’s progress remotely, reducing admissions to hospital. With the NHS now more focused on improving the patient pathway from GP to hospital and to social care, the ambition is for more joined-up and better care for patients.
Continued education and training
This fast-moving specialty has to be matched with parallel and continuous education and training programmes, committing valuable time to teach the next generation of doctors.
Starting as a meeting of a few specialists with an interest in the heart, the British Cardiovascular Society has grown into a large, diverse, vibrant organisation whose members now span medicine, nursing, physiology, clinical science and other disciplines.
However, we retain the commitment to education and sharing innovation handed down by our founders to improve cardiovascular care for patients.