Roberto Keegan and Luis Carlos Sáenz

At the last Latin American Society of Electrophysiology and Cardiac Stimulation (SOLAECE) Congress (Porto Alegre, Brazil, November 2016) the Executive Board of SOLAECE announced a new proposal to strengthen the positioning of the society into the global context of cardiac arrhythmias with a new legally constituted society to be named Latin American Heart Rhythm Society (LAHRS). Cardiac Rhythm News speaks to 2017‒2018 president of SOLAECE Roberto Keegan (Hospital Privado del Sur, Buenos Aires, Argentina) and 2017‒2018 vice president of SOLAECE Luis Carlos Sáenz (Fundación Cardioinfantil, Bogotá, Colombia) about this new proposal.

Could you give us the reasons for giving legal status to SOLAECE?

The evolution of modern scientific societies has created the urgent need to have a legally constituted Latin American society as the current SOLAECE has no legal status. Taking advantage of this need and taking into account the global context of the main scientific societies related to cardiac electrophysiology, we decided to name it LAHRS.

To what extent will the current composition of the society change with this new legal status? 

Although it is the foundation of a new society, it is actually the continuity of SOLAECE. In recent years, SOLAECE, under the presidencies of Drs Luis Aguinaga (Centro Privado de Cardiología, Tucumán, Argentina) and Guilherme Fenelon (Albert Einstein Jewish Hospital, São Paulo, Brazil), has positioned itself in the world of arrhythmias, in particular working in partnership with societies such as the Heart Rhythm Society (HRS), the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) and the Asia Pacific Heart Rhythm Society (APHRS).

What are the objectives of this brand new society?

The objectives are defined in the proposal that we prepared together with Dr William Uribe (San Vicente Fundación Centros Especializados, Medellín, Colombia) vice president of SOLAECE 2015‒2016, and who for personal reasons had to decline to assume the presidency for the current period. In the proposal we defined three key objectives for LAHRS: 1) to obtain institutional consolidation giving it the legal framework mentioned above; 2) to obtain scientific and educational consolidation promoting research, education and development of scientific knowledge in the field of cardiac arrhythmias in Latin America. An example of this is the proposal to establish an annual LAHRS congress; 3) finally, to enhance social commitment promoting joint actions with other scientific societies, governmental entities, non-governmental organisations, health insurers, etc. These objectives will pursue the improvement of medical care and health of the population in Latin America.

What are the benefits for Latin American members with this new society?

There are many potential benefits for LAHRS members. Amongst those, belonging to a strong and consolidated society, which works in partnership with the main international societies, gives its members the opportunity to participate actively in important global projects. One example is the opportunity that more than 45 Latin American physicians have had to participate as writing members or reviewers in more than 20 global consensus documents. Another project of LAHRS also includes the creation of a magazine aimed to function as an official organ of dissemination throughout the Latin American territory, so that everyone has the opportunity to make their research or ideas known.

What is the biggest challenge facing LAHRS?

We believe that the greatest challenge is to carry out the first step of the project, which is the legal formalisation of the society. Another great challenge will undoubtedly be the interest of the Latin American community of electrophysiologists on our society.

At the HRS Scientific Sessions 2017, LAHRS will be hosting an inaugural assembly of this new society; could you give us details of this event?

It will be a Founding Assembly that will give everyone the opportunity to express their ideas and of course all those who support this initiative will be giving legitimacy to this new society. We are working legally to ensure that all those who participate and finally support this initiative, signing the Founding Act, can become part of LAHRS as founding members. The Founding Assembly will take place at HRS 2017 (Chicago, USA) on Wednesday 10 May, McCormick Place, West Building Room 470 from 14.30‒17.30.

Regarding the practice of electrophysiology in Latin America, in which areas have you seen major improvement?

We believe that the practice of electrophysiology in Latin America has achieved important improvements over the last years. However, perhaps the greatest advance is in the area of human resources with professionals of great academic and professional level.