​Dr. Harry Rakowski, cardiologist at UHN's Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, discusses the importance of bringing together global experts for the first international conference on hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. (Photo: UHN)

Set against a backdrop of collaboration and urgency, the first HCM Summit Toronto 2016 assembled 30 global physician-leaders to address the diagnosis and treatment of a rare but often fatal cardiac condition: hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM).  

The purpose of the HCM Summit Toronto 2016 - the first international conference on HCM - is to craft recommendations for management of the potentially-fatal disease.  

Organized by Dr. Harry Rakowski, cardiologist, Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, UHN; Professor of Medicine, University of Toronto, and a leading authority on HCM, the Summit convened physicians from five continents. The Summit represented notable institutions such as the Mayo Clinic, Harvard Medical School, and the Cleveland Clinic, among others.

"It was a remarkable meeting, bringing together the best scientific minds in HCM from around the world to identify the greatest challenges in disease management and to collaboratively speak the same language and follow the same path of discovery," says Dr. Rakowski.


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    Dr. Rakowski considers this meeting critical in achieving consensus on treatment of HCM patients, which he describes as often "challenging" for physicians.

    HCM affects one in 500 Canadians and often presents with few notable symptoms. It is also one of the leading causes of sudden cardiac death.


    "The Summit provided a unique opportunity for discussion on a number of crucial topics concerning HCM diagnosis, management and research," says attendee, Dr. Iacopo Olivotto, Director, Referral Center for Cardiomyopathies, Careggi University Hospital, Florence, Italy.

    "The format allowed ample and comprehensive discussion, by limiting the time of conventional presentations. Furthermore, the atmosphere was warm and passionate, helping overcome differences in opinions."


    The impact of the Summit

    "The most important deliverable is to set in motion a process of re-unification of HCM guidelines, currently divided between the American College of Cardiology, the American Heart Association and the European Society of Cardiology," says Dr. Olivotto.

    "Points in common are much more relevant than differences. I think we will be able to implement a large network encompassing existing registries and collaborations," he says. "This could only have happened in Canada! Our hosts have been magnificent in every possible way."


    hcmsummit group Some 30 physician thought-leaders from around the world, representing leading cardiovascular healthcare centres including the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic, recently convened in Toronto for the inaugural HCM Toronto Summit 2016, led by Dr. Harry Rakowski, cardiologist, Peter Munk Cardiac Centre (pictured middle) to develop recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) which can cause sudden cardiac death.  (Photo: PMCC/UHN)

    For Dr. Rakowski, who is also the Douglas Wigle Research Chair in Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, and who conceived the idea for the Summit just three months ago, the effort is already bearing fruit.

    "There has been a remarkable consensus developed in two days for what we need to do. A Proceedings paper will follow and perhaps one or two other papers that separately review Genetics and Septal Reduction strategies," he says.

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