ACC Cancels Scientific Sessions Over Novel Coronavirus

Patrice Wendling

March 09, 2020

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's  Coronavirus Resource Center.

The American College of Cardiology (ACC) annual scientific sessions, set to take place March 27-30 in Chicago in conjunction with the World Congress of Cardiology (ACC.20/WCC), has been canceled.

Only last week, ACC reported that the meeting would go on despite the coronavirus outbreak. The College changed its mind following recent updates and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, and state and local health governments, and after learning in the last week of the increasing number of institutional travel restrictions placed on healthcare providers in the US and globally.

"The health, safety and well-being of our members, staff, exhibitors, faculty and other stakeholders is of paramount importance," said ACC President Richard J. Kovacs, MD, Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, in today's announcement. "With an ever-increasing number of ACC members on the front lines of preparing and reacting to the COVID-19 outbreak, it is in the best interest of everyone to cancel the meeting and ensure our members are able to do what they do best — help and heal." 

Given the planning and logistics that go into organizing a meeting of this size, ACC said "rescheduling is not an option."

Registration numbers were not available for ACC.20/WCC; however, registration was on par with ACC.19, which was attended by about 18,000 individuals, including 13,000 cardiovascular professionals, an ACC spokesperson told | Medscape Cardiology.

Registration fees for attendees and exhibitors and booth space for exhibitors will be refunded, despite last month's refund deadline.

"However, while we might not be able to meet live and in person, we are committed to recognizing our Distinguished Award winners and bringing the essential ACC.20/WCC education and science directly to our members," the update said. "Look for more details soon on our virtual plans for delivering elements of the ACC.20/WCC program."

The College is advising presenters to continue working on their presentations and said updates on virtual presentations will be posted to

Late Friday, ACC also updated its COVID-19 Clinical Guidance for the Cardiovascular Care Team, which outlines what is currently known about the acute cardiac complication of COVID-19 and its implications for patients with underlying cardiovascular conditions, first released February 13. It also includes clinical guidance given COVID-19 uncertainty and recommendations for cardiac-specific preparedness.

Among the recommendations:

·    Make plans for quickly identifying and isolating cardiovascular patients with COVID-19 symptoms from other patients, including in the ambulatory setting

·    It is reasonable to advise all cardiovascular patients of the potential increased risk and to encourage additional, reasonable precautions in accordance with CDC guidance

·    It is important for patients with CVD to remain current with vaccinations, including the pneumococcal vaccine, given the increased risk of secondary bacterial infection with COVID-19; CVD patients should be vaccinated against influenza in accordance with current ACC/AHA guidelines

·    In geographies with active COVID-19 outbreaks, it may be reasonable to substitute telephonic or telehealth visits for in-person routine visits for stable CVD patients to avoid possible nosocomial COVID-19 infection; planning for emergency telehealth protocols should begin now

·    For patients with heart failure or volume overload conditions, copious fluid administration for viral infection should be used cautiously and carefully monitored

·    General immunologic health remains important for both providers and patients, including eating well, sleeping, and managing stress

ACC.20/WCC is just the latest in a string of healthcare conferences to be postponed or canceled, including the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) and Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).

The always active #cardiotwitter community was quick to respond to the ACC.20/WCC cancellation, with several praising the decision and others suggesting that travel restrictions, now in place in more than 40 academic institutions, may have tipped the balance. Mamas Mamas, MD, tweeted: "This was the right decision, congratulations on your strong leadership and doing the right thing." In response, however, Sergio Pinski, MD, tweeted, "I don't think it was strong leadership. They did it after most academic institutions in the USA banned travel." 

In a recent Twitter poll by Medscape Cardiology, 57% of respondents said they planned to skip ACC.20/WCC, whereas only 19% said they would attend.

Follow Patrice Wendling on Twitter: @pwendl. For more from | Medscape Cardiology, join us on Twitter and Facebook.


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