Media Contacts

Stacy W. Kish

Jan 08, 2018 3:15 PM

Despite the therapeutic and medical advances to help failing hearts recover, the medical community remains divided on how different treatments affect the patient’s outcome. This is one of the many topics to be covered during University of Utah Health’s annual Utah Cardiac Recovery Symposium (U-CARS) held on January 11—12 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Now in its sixth year, this one-of-a-kind conference has been described as a “think tank” where national leaders will convene for the unique two-day event aimed at advancing the field of heart recovery. This conference benefits from the unique perspective of contributing presenters and attendees, including hundreds of cardiologists, surgeons, radiologists, anesthesiologists, ER physicians, nurses, pharmacists and research scientists.

“U-CARS provides the venue for thought leaders from around the world to come together and exchange ideas about heart recovery and regeneration with the aim of understanding and implementing therapies to improve heart care,” said Craig Selzman, MD, Professor and Chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at U of U Health.

Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death for both men and women. One of the more extreme forms of heart disease, heart failure, affects millions of people around the world. This chronic, progressive condition develops when the heart is unable to pump enough oxygenated blood throughout the body. When the body is robbed of oxygen, a person experiences fatigue and shortness of breath, making everyday tasks, like walking or climbing stairs, difficult.

According to the American Heart Association, more than 6 million Americans are living with heart failure, with an additional 900,000 people diagnosed every year. The number of heart failure patients is expected to increase to 8 million people by 2030.

This year’s symposium was organized by Selzman, along with U of U Health professors Joseph Stehlik, MD, MPH; and Stavros Drakos, MD, PhD; and adjunct professor Abdallah Kfoury, MD.

Media are welcome to attend the keynote and any of the symposium’s six sessions. An overview of the sessions is available in the agenda for each day of the conference:

January 11 agenda

January 12 agenda

The symposium will be live streamed during the event at All times are listed as Mountain Standard Time.

Symposium Highlights

Keynote Speaker on Thursday January 11, 2018

Milton Packer, MD, will present the talk HF - recovered - EF: What Does It Mean? Packer will discuss the reality of patient outcomes following current treatments for heart failure. During his career, Packer has led more than 15 large international multicenter clinical trials, and his work has influenced advances in prognosis and development of therapies for heart failure. He has led the Division of Circulatory Physiology at Columbia University for 12 years. During this time, he built one of the nation’s most outstanding group of experts devoted to understanding and treating heart failure. He held the distinguished role of President of the Heart Failure Society of America from 2000 - 2002 and has served on numerous guidelines and standards committees for the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology. Packer is currently the distinguished scholar in cardiovascular science at Baylor University Medical Center.

Keynote Speaker on Friday January 12, 2018

Patrick T. O'Gara, MD, will present the talk Predictors of Post-operative LV Function Following Heart Valve Surgery. What are We Missing? His talk is based on his clinical activities focused on patients with structural, heart valve-related diseases. His specialties also include aortic diseases and general cardiology. During his career, O'Gara has served as President of the American College of Cardiology in 2014 - 2015. He is the Steering Committee Co-Chair of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's Cardiothoracic Surgery Network, which has completed three ground-breaking, randomized controlled trials in cardiac surgery. O’Gara is currently the Director of Strategic Planning for the Cardiovascular Division at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Mass. He also holds the Watkins Family Distinguished Chair in Cardiology and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. 

9:00 —11:30 am Session on Friday January 12, 2018

Session 5 Mechanically Assisted Circulation and Cardiac Recovery: Brian Lowes, MD, PhD, University of Nebraskawill present preliminary results from the RESTAGE-HF clinical trial. The trial was designed to determine the number of patients who showed sufficient improvement in heart pumping function after receiving a standard treatment ¾ Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD), an implantable mechanical pump that helps pump blood from the lower chambers (ventricles) of the heart to the rest of your body. Patients in the trial also received pharmacological treatment following LVAD placement. The study evaluated whether the LVAD could be removed after 18 months of treatment. The clinical trial final results will be presented in April, 2018.

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A pioneer in treating advanced heart failure, U of U Health is a fitting site for the symposium. University researchers and physicians were the first to develop and implant an artificial heart, and U of U health care continues to be at the forefront of cardiovascular and heart failure research and care today. NIH and AHA-supported research initiatives focus on uncovering genetic, metabolic and other contributors to heart disease, and development of new heart failure therapies.

University of Utah Health is the state’s only academic health care system, providing leading-edge and compassionate medicine for a referral area that encompasses 10% of the U.S., including Idaho, Wyoming, Montana and much of Nevada. A hub for health sciences research and education in the region, U of U Health touts a $291 million research enterprise and trains the majority of Utah’s health care professionals at its Schools of Medicine and Dentistry and Colleges of Nursing, Pharmacy and Health. Staffed by more than 20,000 employees, the system includes 12 community clinics and four hospitals — University Hospital; University Neuropsychiatric Institute; Huntsman Cancer Hospital; and the University Orthopaedic Center. For eight straight years, U of U Health has ranked among the top 10 U.S. academic medical centers in the rigorous Vizient Quality and Accountability Study, including reaching No. 1 in 2010 and 2016.

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