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Overview: The 24th Annual International AF Symposium 2019

By Steve S. Ryan, PhD, January 30, 2019

There was snow on the streets of Boston, Mass. as world-renowned experts in the treatment of Atrial Fibrillation arrived for the 2019 International AF Symposium. (For a boy from Buffalo, NY, this was an all too familiar sight). But the weather warmed up somewhat during the three-day event from January 24-26, 2019.

Seaport World Trade Center, Boston, Mass.

For me, it felt like a kind of homecoming returning to the Seaport World Trade Center after 5 years of the AF Symposium meetings in Florida. (Unfortunately, the owner of the Seaport World Trade Center, Fidelity Investments, plans an ambitious remake of the complex that includes closure of the 120,000-square-foot exhibition space. Therefore, the 2020 AF Symposium will be held instead in Washington, DC.)

One disappointment: We were supposed to visit the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. But due to the government shutdown, that had to be cancelled. (FYI: It reopened Jan. 29 after Congress restored funding.)

Instead we had a meet-and-greet supper meeting at the Seaport Hotel Thursday evening. (I probably bored everyone telling about our escape from the Malibu fires. A home down the street from us burned down, while ours was intact, except for one singed wall and melted PVC gutters. For the details, see Personal Update: Surviving the Woolsey/Malibu Fire.)

See my photo below with Dr Michel Häissaguerre (inventor of the PVI ablation for A-Fib) who cured my A-Fib in 1998 in Bordeaux, France.

Renewed friendships: It was great to renew friendships formed over many conversations about Atrial Fibrillation at the symposiums and continued by phone and email. I will often contact one or more of these experts to help with a difficult question from an reader or on behalf of a patient needing the expertise of a master EP. (See our Advisory Board for a partial list of specialists who advise me.)

The General Mood

“We’re getting better” seemed to be general feeling or mood of the 24th Annual AF Symposium in Boston, MA. Attendance was good with over 900 participants (up from last year).

Steve Ryan with Dr Michel Häissaguerre (inventor of the PVI ablation for A-Fib) at the 2019 AF Symposium presentation hall at

Steve Ryan with Dr Michel Häissaguerre (inventor of the PVI ablation for A-Fib) at the 2019 AF Symposium presentation hall

Most Talked About

The most prominent topic was the CABANA trial which had its own Thursday afternoon (January 24) session including a debate on its merits. Look for my report soon. (For background, see my January 2019 post: 5-Year CABANA Trial: Compares Catheter Ablation with Antiarrhythmic Drug Therapy)

Plethora of Future Technology

I have never seen so many future technology presentations at the AF Symposium.

On Thursday morning there was a “Spotlight” session featuring 5-minute talks on innovative A-Fib developments (8 on devices, 2 on medicines).

Thursday also had a new, challenging session on “Emerging New Technologies” including topics such as Quantum Mechanics, Artificial Intelligence, Technology and Ethics, Robotic Interaction, and Device Investment applied to the A-Fib field.

The last session of the week on Friday featured five Late Breaking Clinical Trials which focused on new developments in A-Fib.

Two lunchtime learning sessions (not part of the official AF Symposium) featured sponsored talks on very innovative A-Fib developments.

Worldwide Live Patient Cases Via Streaming Video

The live cases session Friday morning was again worth the price of admission by itself. We saw live presentations from:

• Prague, the Czech Republic
• Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City
• Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston
• St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee, WI
• Emory Heart and Vascular Center in Atlanta, GA

The presentations were seamless and technically perfect. They would even switch back and forth between various centers during the live procedures.

A-Fib Experts Presentations, Discussions and Audience Interaction

Within the 3-day Symposium, there were 65 different short presentations, followed by time for discussion and audience interaction. Each topic session was moderated by 2 or 3 leaders in the A-Fib field. Attendees were given the opportunity to interact and answer questions posed by the presenters. Speakers included 2 representatives from the FDA.

Steve Ryan at 2019 AF Symposium sign;

Steve Ryan at 2019 AF Symposium

The talks focused on the following subjects:

Thursday, January 24

  • Emerging New Technologies: Implications for the Future of Medicine and Cardiology
  • Spotlight Session: Early Stage & Emerging Technologies in Cardiac Mapping and Ablation
  • Novel Mapping and Ablation Technologies for Catheter Ablation off Atrial Fibrillation
  • CABANA: New Analyses, Long-Term Follow-Up and Debate – Interpretation and Implications for Clinical Practice
  • Challenging Cases in AF Management: Drugs, Anticoagulation, Ablation & LAA Closure

Friday, January 25

  • Real-Time Case Transmissions – New Imaging, Mapping and Ablation Technologies
  • New Trends in Catheter Ablation for Atrial Fibrillation: Improving Efficacy and Efficiency
  • New Technologies for Mapping and Ablation of Atrial Fibrillation
  • Stroke Prevention in AF: Current Issues in Anticoagulation, Ablation and LAA Closure
  • Left Atrial Appendage Closure

Saturday, January 26

  • Beyond PVI: Mechanisms and Targets for AF Ablation (Session I)
  • Beyond PVI: Mechanisms and Targets for AF Ablation (Session II)
  • How to improve the Safety of AF Ablation Procedures
  • Late Breaking Clinical Trials and First Report Clinical Investigations
    Best Abstract Award and Presentation

Why I Attend: Expect My Reports

As someone who has been attending the AF Symposium for 15 years, it’s unique and invaluable. It provides info and discussions on A-Fib unlike any other conferences. Each day one comes away with incredible insights into A-Fib.

After each day of the Symposium, one comes away with incredible insights into A-Fib.

It’s a privilege to be able to attend presentations by the best clinicians and researchers working in A-Fib today. I learn more in three days than in a year of reading the various A-Fib research reports.

I’m especially blessed by being able to ask questions of the presenters and converse one-to-one with them.

More to Come

Look for more of my reports from the 2019 AF Symposium in the next weeks and months. I will share the current state of the art in A-Fib research and treatments and what’s relevant to patients with Atrial Fibrillation.

And, as always, my reports will be written in plain language for A-Fib patients and their families.

AF Symposium 2019 logo at

If you find any errors on this page, email us. Y Last updated: Monday, March 30, 2020

Return to 2019 AF Symposium Reports

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