COVID-19 outbreak

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WHF President Prof Karen Sliwa's message on COVID-19

19 March 2020

Dear Members and friends,

We are going through a global health crisis, which is unprecedented in our lifetime. Many lives are being lost each day and the virus continues to spread everywhere in the world. We are, however, encouraged that our colleagues from China – the first and worst hit country so far – are reporting a sharp decline in numbers of newly infected cases. Their commitment to saving lives, together with health care providers all around the world, is truly admirable.

This is a global pandemic, and as such it requires a global response. In every country doctors and health care workers are at the frontlines of a gigantic struggle to stop the spread of COVID-19. Our role as leaders of the cardiovascular community is to ensure we are contributing to their effort to contain the disease and treat those who have fallen victims to it in a timely and efficient manner.

As new evidence and research appear every minute, we have to be careful not to add to the overload of information, but to help make sense of it for our Members, who are our direct link to communities and patients around the world. Many uncertainties still exist but consensus reigns over a few issues, including the fact that people with pre-existing chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension and diabetes are at higher risk of developing complications and therefore are at a higher risk of death.

The most visible impact on WHF activity has been the decision to cancel our joint Congress with the American College of Cardiology and shift it to a virtual setting. We are now busy preparing for ACC.20/WCC Virtual, which will leverage new technologies and formats to bring vital science and education to heart health professionals worldwide.

WHF has undertaken a series of initiatives to monitor the situation and to keep our Members informed. From the beginning, our Chinese colleagues played a crucial role in sharing important observations and recommendations. Our website is continuously updated with new material produced by WHF and our Members, as well as articles, videos and testimonies. Global Heart, the official journal of the World Heart Federation, is publishing a series of papers on the issue and calling for additional research from our Members. We are also developing a COVID-19 Blog, in which our experts will summarize the most relevant articles from other scientific journals.

We know that those of you who are involved in clinical practice and care are in a very challenging situation and that your patients, community and colleagues are now your number one priority. We fully understand and appreciate the pressures on your time and would like to offer you any assistance that we can to help minimise the burden.

Our thoughts go out to everyone who has been infected or impacted by the pandemic. We hope that you, your family, friends and colleagues are safe. In uncertain times it is helpful to have a compass and ours remains steadily set at the direction of achieving heart health for everyone.

Karen Sliwa, President, World Heart Federation