Scientific Sessions brings together leaders from around the world. Heart Rhythm Daily this year has asked some of those leaders for their thoughts.
Wee Siong Teo, MD, is president of the Asia Pacific Heart Rhythm Society (APHRS). Dr. Teo is a senior consultant with the Department of Cardiology and senior advisor to the Electrophysiology and Pacing Programme at the National Heart Centre Singapore.
APHRS will present two joint sessions at this year’s Heart Rhythm 2016, both on Thursday. “What’s New in J Wave Syndromes” will take place at 10:30 a.m. in Room 303, Moscone South, and “Primary Prevention for SCA and the Impact of 1.5 Prevention in Asian Countries: Evidence and Future Directions” — presented in conjunction with the Chinese Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology and the Chinese Society of Arrhythmias — also will start at 10:30 a.m. in Room 2011, Moscone West.
Dr. Teo shared his thoughts on several EP-related topics:
Why did you enter the electrophysiology field?
Cardiac Electrophysiology was only just beginning in Asia in the late 1980s, and I started my cardiology training in 1987. Interventional electrophysiology with surgery was just starting, and for the first time we could cure patients, not just palliate them. That was very exciting and, hence, the start of my career as an electrophysiology fellow in London, Ontario, with George Klein, MD, and Gerard Guiraudon, MD, in 1989.
With the advent of catheter ablation, the field of electrophysiology has clearly become so much more satisfying since we are able to cure patients permanently. Devices also help patients with severe bradycardia and prevented sudden cardiac death.
Why is it important for you to be at Scientific Sessions?
The field of electrophysiology is expanding rapidly. It is almost a living subject. New techniques and understanding come out almost every year, and that helps improve our patients’ care.
What are you looking forward to at this year’s event?
It will be interesting to see if we have better answers to identifying who are the best candidates for AF ablation and what technique are best for whom. There are many etiologic causes of AF, and hopefully we can identify them better and also prevent AF, if possible. It will be interesting to see if there are new developments with leadless pacing.
Why is it important for your organization and HRS to work together?
Arrhythmias affect all patients all over the world. In the Asia/Pacific area, with its rapidly aging population, atrial fibrillation is a major problem. Stroke is devastating, and both the family and health care systems have big problems dealing with it.
A second major problem is the increased need for good device implanters in the region. The implant rate in Asia is still very low — few countries are above 100 per million implants. Although Asia has more than 2 billion in population, the number of good implanting centers remains small. We need to urgently train more electrophysiologists in the region.
HRS also has great experience in training doctors and public education.
We are, in fact, partnering with HRS to have public education on atrial fibrillation in the AP region in 2016.
What’s the biggest challenge or opportunity facing your organization?
We are still a very young organization. Officially APHRS only started in Singapore in 2008, when we had our first scientific symposium.
This year will be our eighth symposium, which will take place in Seoul, South Korea. We are thankful to HRS administration for guiding our staff whenever necessary.
Also, the geography and cultures (in APHRS), and we have to learn to work together with the common goal of helping our patients.
What’s the biggest challenge or opportunity facing the field of electrophysiology?
In Asia, it is still the lack of expertise and knowledge. I still see too many patients who are referred too late — like LVEF 10 percent for CRT! We need to train many more electrophysiologists in Asia.
Cost is also becoming a challenge, and we have to work with the companies to give the most cost effective devices for the patients who really need them.