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A coming together for cardiology

By Catherine Reilly - 08th Oct 2023

Prof Pascal McKeown

Irish Cardiac Society President Prof Pascal McKeown speaks to Catherine Reilly about the Society’s upcoming Annual Scientific Meeting and the importance of collaboration in cardiology

The Irish Cardiac Society (ICS) Annual Scientific Meeting and AGM, which is the seminal event in the specialty’s calendar, takes place on 12-14 October next.

Established in 1949, the ICS is the professional society in Ireland for those whose primary interest is in the practice of cardiology, cardiovascular surgery, and research.

The agenda for the upcoming conference features an array of distinguished national and international speakers, who will discuss topical issues and trends in cardiology over the course of the three-day event. The ICS conference hosts the annual meetings of the Irish Cardiovascular Nurses Association and Irish Institute of Clinical Measurement Physiology, reflecting the truly multidisciplinary nature of the specialty.

Prof Pascal McKeown, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast, became ICS President last year. He told the Medical Independent that the annual meeting is expected to attract 500 delegates, including doctors, nurses, and clinical physiologists, across the three days.

“We consider this to be the premier meeting on the island of Ireland for cardiology each year,” he said.

International links

Prof McKeown noted the Society’s strong international links and collaborations, which are well reflected in the meeting agenda.

On Friday morning (13 October), following Prof McKeown’s opening address, there will be a session led by the American College of Cardiology’s British and Irish Chapter. Prof John Greenwood, President of the British Cardiovascular Society, and Dr Edward Fry, Past-President of the American College of Cardiology, will discuss the key issues they believe will impact upon their subspecialties over the next decade.  On Saturday morning (14 October), the Vice-President of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), Prof Stephan Windecker, will chair a session providing updates from the ESC.

Prof McKeown expressed his delight that the British, American, and European Societies will all be represented at the meeting.

Delegates will also hear a presentation from Prof Robert Byrne, Director of Cardiology at Mater Private Network and Professor of Cardiovascular Research at the RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences. Prof Byrne was Chair of the expert working group that developed the ESC’s new guidelines for the management of acute coronary syndromes.

“That shows how a small Society can have influence on the global stage,” remarked Prof McKeown.

The ICS President also drew attention to a number of important items on the meeting agenda.

These include the Stokes Lecture on Friday evening. This is the keynote address of the conference and is named in honour of Dr William Stokes, an Irish physician who described a number of cardiovascular conditions. The Stokes Lecture is delivered by an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the specialty of cardiology and who has Irish connections.

This year’s lecture will be delivered by Prof Theresa McDonagh, Consultant Cardiologist in the School of Cardiovascular Medicine and Sciences, King’s College London.

“Prof McDonagh is internationally recognised for her work on heart failure, and we are delighted that she is coming to give the Stokes Lecture,” commented Prof McKeown.

The presentation of the Dr Brian Maurer Young Investigator Award is another major feature of the meeting. The award is named in honour of the late Dr Brian Maurer who was President of the Society from 1988 to 1990 and who, throughout his career, was a strong advocate for research and very supportive of early career cardiologists.

This year there are four shortlisted candidates who will present on the Friday afternoon of the meeting.

“That is indicative of the importance we place on our trainees and providing them with opportunities to showcase the very best research that is going on,” said Prof McKeown.

Prof McKeown noted that a memorial lecture in honour of Dr Carmel Halley will take place on Saturday afternoon. Dr Halley, who died last year, was a highly respected Consultant Cardiologist who trained in Ireland and at the Cleveland Clinic in the US. Dr Halley worked at a number of hospitals during her career, including Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, and St Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin. The Dr Carmel Halley Memorial Lecture will be delivered by Dr Randall Starling, Professor of Medicine at the Heart, Vascular and Thoracic Institute, Cleveland Clinic. The title of his talk is ‘Guideline directed medical therapy for heart failure: History, challenges, and how to achieve success?’

This year’s ICS meeting will also mark the 20th anniversary of the Dr Brian McGovern Scholarship.

“Dr Brian McGovern was an Irish cardiologist working in Boston who unfortunately died in tragic circumstances, and in memory of Brian we set up an annual scholarship which allows one of the trainees on the island of Ireland to undertake a Fellowship outside Ireland,” said Prof McKeown. “It is a prestigious award bestowed annually and allows our trainees to obtain subspecialty training in a centre of excellence overseas.”

The Stokes Lecture is delivered by an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the specialty of cardiology and who has Irish connections

Society priorities

In regard to broader priorities for the Society, Prof McKeown referenced the ongoing implementation of the ICS’s strategic plan as a key area of focus. This document was launched last year and covers the period 2022 to 2027. There are five pillars within the strategy, namely education, registries, research, advocacy, and corporate governance.

Prof McKeown also said the Society is keen to encourage enhanced links in cardiology across the island. There are already a number of successful service collaborations that have benefited patients in both jurisdictions.

The ICS President referenced the work of the All-Island Congenital Heart Disease Network and provision of cardiac surgery and interventional procedures at Children’s Health Ireland at Crumlin, for children from across the island of Ireland. He also noted the 24/7 primary percutaneous coronary intervention service at Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry, which can be accessed by many people in Co Donegal who otherwise would have to travel to Galway or Dublin. A consultant cardiologist from Letterkenny University Hospital also contributes to this service.

Prof McKeown said the Society is keen to encourage further collaborations where there are opportunities to do so.

The ICS President added that cardiology teams on both sides of the border shared some common challenges.

Prof McKeown said the Society is keen to encourage further collaborations where there are opportunities to do so

These included public misconceptions that cardiovascular disease has been “conquered”; an under-recognition of cardiovascular disease, particularly in females; and lengthy waiting lists to access care.

“We are facing similar challenges in trying to deliver optimal care for patients with cardiovascular disease on the island of Ireland and one of the opportunities from the meeting is to share experiences and look for areas where we can collaborate,” concluded Prof McKeown.

For the programme of the Irish Cardiac Society Annual Scientific Meeting and AGM, and to register for the meeting, please go to

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