ACCA was previously the ESC Working Group on Acute Cardiac Care. Today it becomes one of six ESC Associations, whose presidents are invited to ESC Board meetings. "It will be easier to inform the ESC Board about the activities of the association," said Professor Christiaan Vrints (Belgium), outgoing chairman of the Working Group on Acute Cardiac Care. "We will also have a bigger impact on the policies and the development of the ESC as an organisation."
The Working Group on Acute Cardiac Care had the largest and fastest growing membership of ESC working groups. Over the past 2 years it grew from just below 700 to more than 1,100 members. One in five of all members of ESC working groups belong to acute cardiac care.
"We're confident that we have the critical mass in terms of members to be a successful association," said Professor Peter Clemmensen (Denmark), ACCA's first president. "We will be more visible as an association and our vision and hope is that we will attract even more members."
The new association will expand its scope beyond the activities of the intensive cardiac care unit (ICCU), which was the original focus of the working group. Professor Vrints said: "The focus has been expanded to the first seven days of acute cardiovascular disease starting from the initial symptoms at home or work until the seventh day of hospitalisation. Nowadays, to improve the quality of care we have to focus on every aspect of acute cardiovascular care starting before admission to the hospital."
The expanded scope will see ACCA become involved in the pre-hospital phase of acute cardiovascular diseases, the diagnosis and treatment of patients in the emergency department, the transfer to the cath lab, the ICCU, and the cardiology department. This process of care involves many subspecialists beyond cardiology including emergency physicians, paramedics working in ambulances, and nurses working in the emergency department and ICCU. "We want to stimulate the participation of allied professions in the activities of this new association" said Professor Vrints.
Professor Clemmensen said: "Acute cardiac care, to be successful, has to be an integrated patient oriented approach starting from the first sign of symptoms and initial diagnosis. We will put a great deal of emphasis on the system of care and the flow of the patient, making sure that these acutely ill cardiovascular patients get into the right hospital beds and that we have the proper facilities in intensive care to save their lives."
He added: "While some of the other ESC associations are focused on a particular disease state, diagnosis, or single methodology, ACCA will concentrate on systems of care."
ACCA will hold an annual congress, and the first will be held 20-22 October 2012 in Istanbul, Turkey. The association's interdisciplinary membership and approach to disease management will be reflected in the main theme, "Integrative approach and management of Acute Cardiovascular Diseases".
Professor Clemmensen said: "It's important that the congress becomes part of the yearly agenda of all our potential members."
Education and certification of the qualifications necessary to be an acute cardiac care physician have been important priorities for the working group over the past few years. It produced the ESC Textbook of Intensive and Acute Cardiac Care in 2011, a reference manual that was co-authored by internationally recognised scientists.
"The textbook encompasses the entire curriculum needed to provide the best care in this field," said Professor Clemmensen. "It engulfs patient care at the pre-hospital phase, the flow through the emergency room and to the coronary care unit and intensive care unit. As ACCA we will be updating the textbook and publishing a new version."
ACCA's official journal is European Heart Journal - Acute Cardiovascular Care (EHJ-ACVC) which, like the association, combines the expertise of the different subspecialties of cardiology, emergency and intensive care medicine in the management of patients with acute cardiovascular syndromes. The journal joined the family of ESC journals in March.