Amid March Madness, ACC09 rises

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Justine Cadet,
News Editor

Every spring, while the cardiology community turns its attention to the American College of Cardiology (ACC) Scientific Sessions, U.S. attention also turns to college basketball.

This year, March Madness marks the 19-year anniversary of Hank Gathers' death, which occured during the NCAA tournament. On March 4, 1990, the 23-year-old Loyola Marymount center unexpectedly collapsed on the court, and died shortly after from cardiomyopathy. Earlier in the season, he had been prescribed a beta blocker after being diagnosed with ventricular tachycardia when he collapsed on the free throw line in a game against the University of California at Santa Barbara. However, he had reportedly stopped taking the vital medication because he felt it hindered his athletic performance--which many have attributed to his premature death.

The ACC conference has increasingly been focused on such specialties, reinforcing education about the management and treatment for these unique patients, as well as preventive care for at-risk patient populations through clinical trials, presentations and discussions.

"At ACC09, we have sessions ranging from heart failure to imaging and prevention to risk factors and preventive care to arrhythmias, as well as a spotlight on new technologies," ACC Program Chair Dr. Aaron Kugelmass told Cardiovascular Business News. New this year, ACC has teamed with the Cardiovascular Research Foundation (CRF) to simultaneously host the i2 Summit, which will focus on acute MI and interventional devices.

Specifically, ACC09 has several program tracks which cover the heart failure--the most common manifestation of cardiomyopathy. Also, the ACC and the American Heart Association (AHA) released updated guidelines on the diagnosis and management of heart failure this week to help physicians incorporate the latest research findings into treating this growing population of patients.

After Gathers first collapsed, he told a sports reporter that the "doc's got a job to do," and this year's ACC conference is seeking to bolster the ability of cardiologists to treat the unique patients, along with the more common at-risk patients.

On these topics, or any others, please feel free to contact me.