The field of cardiac electrophysiology (EP) has grown tremendously over the past few decades with the advent of catheter ablation and advances in cardiac pacing and defibrillation therapy. With this growth has come a great increase in the number of cardiac electrophysiologists and allied health care providers who take care of patients with heart rhythm disorders. To address the needs of this group, Drs. J. Warren Harthorne, Seymour Furman, Victor Parsonnet and Dryden Morse founded the North American Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology (NASPE) in 1979 as a professional organization for pacing and electrophysiology. NASPE had its first meeting in Houston, Texas in March of 1980, had 500 members within five years, 1,000 in ten years, and 3,000 in twenty years.
After 25 years, NASPE moved in 2004 from Boston to Washington, DC and became the Heart Rhythm Society (HRS). It now represents more than 5,800 heart rhythm professionals from over 72 countries, including more than 80 percent of the EPs in the United States. HRS advocates on behalf of its members in the areas of reimbursement, certification, access to care, and policy, with a vision to end death and suffering due to heart rhythm disorders. The CEO of HRS, James Youngblood, has said: “We advance the field, educate heart rhythm professionals, connect the HR community at all levels and time zones, and champion members’ professional interests — all so that heart rhythm patients can receive the very highest levels of care.” Dr. John Day currently serves as the President of HRS, and will be followed by Dr. Michael Gold next year.
The crown jewels of HRS are the annual Scientific Sessions, which have grown in attendance from a few hundred to more than 13,000 attendees. These meetings continue to be an annual educational highlight for most electrophysiologists. The 2016 meeting will be held in San Francisco from May 4-7, and then in Chicago in 2017. Another valuable HRS educational meeting is the annual Board Review Course; the 2015 course is being held in Chicago in August. The HeartRhythm Journal was established by HRS in 2004 and continues to be one of the highest impact journals in cardiology. A case-based, open-access journal, the HeartRhythm Case Reports Journal, was added last year.
A critical activity of HRS is the creation of practice guidelines and other clinical guidance documents related to heart rhythm disorders in partnership with other global organizations, including the American College of Cardiology (ACC), American Heart Association (AHA), and European Society of Cardiology (ESC). Documents that will be released this year will address ICD Programming and Defibrillation Testing, Atrial Cardiomyopathies, COCATS EP Advanced Training, Supraventricular Tachycardia, Congenital Heart Disease, Syncope, and Left Atrial Appendage Closure.
A relatively new addition to the web-based educational offerings by HRS is the online Learning Center conceived in 2014 and inspired by former HRS President Dr. Hugh Calkins. It houses a growing curriculum for physicians and allied professionals, including Heart Rhythm On Demand, over 200 learning opportunities, and CME. Since its inception, more than 8,000 people have visited the site, with more than 1.5 million hits. It continues to grow under the direction of Dr. Jeanne Poole and a team of HRS staff and physician volunteers.
HRS also has a library of patient education resources that have been translated in multiple languages. A valuable recent addition is the Patient Information Guide to Atrial Fibrillation.
The Heart Rhythm Society is a potent global professional society focused on education, advocacy, and the improvement of the lives of patients with heart rhythm disorders. Consider becoming a member of HRS to support its critical mission. For more information, visit www.HRSonline.org.
Acknowledgment. A special thanks to HRS staff member Christina Wurster, Vice President, Brand Team at HRS, for contributing to this editorial.