Medics jet in to tackle debilitating conditions

Published: 9 March 2016 at 11:37

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International experts to meet in Southend for three-day Anglia Ruskin event

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World-renowned surgeons and medical professionals will gather in Southend to tackle some of the most debilitating health problems in the developed world.

Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA), a condition in which the arteries become inflamed, causes problems ranging from headaches, joint pain and fever to cardiovascular disease and even blindness. 

It almost exclusively affects the over-50s and will be the main point of discussion at the three-day Southend International Symposium, being organised by Anglia Ruskin University in collaboration with Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

According to the NHS, one in every 4,500 people in the UK develop GCA every year and is three times as common in women than it is in men.

Other conditions being discussed during the symposium are Polymyalgia Rhumatica (PMR), which causes pain, stiffness and inflammation in the muscles around the shoulders, neck and hips, and Large Vessel Vasculitis (LVV), the inflammation of large blood vessels.

Medical experts from all over the globe will compare research, clinical guidance and management of these conditions to try and improve outcomes for patients. The meeting will hear about new international treatment guidelines for PMR and the draft 2016 guidelines for GCA. It will also discuss the latest clinical trials and the first international workshop for positron emission topography (PET) scanning in Rheumatology. 

The use of early ultrasound is transforming the diagnosis of GCA in fast-track clinics set up to prevent sight loss, and the symposium features an ultrasound workshop where patients suffering from these conditions will be present to allow hands-on ultrasound experience for delegates.

Selim Cellek, Professor of Health and Biomedicine at Anglia Ruskin University, said:

“Giant Cell Arteritis, Polymyalgia Rheumatica and Large Vessel Vasculitis affect a large number of people in developed countries such as the UK and lead to a range of very serious health conditions. 

“This symposium, which is only the third of its kind, is bringing together key opinion leaders in these fields in order to share expertise and work on a fast-track approach to improve outcomes for patients in Essex and further afield. We are proud to be hosting such an important event in Essex.”

Professor Bhaskar Dasgupta, Head of Rheumatology and Clinical Director of Research and Audit at Southend University Hospital said:

“2016 is a landmark year for these conditions. Southend has received the 2016 Outstanding Practice award from the British Society of Rheumatology (BSR) for developing the fast-track GCA pathway, which has led to significant reduction of sight loss in GCA.

“New trials are coming to fruition that will deliver exciting new therapies for these hitherto neglected diseases. The 2016 updated BSR guidelines for GCA will capture all this excitement and will set out new standards of care.

“We are proud of the role the Southend International Symposia have played over the years in lifting the profile of GCA, PMR and LVV.”

The event will run from March 10-12 at the Holiday Inn, Southend Airport. For further information, visit