Background History

The discovery that an electric current is produced with each beat of a frog’s heart dates from 1842. The first electrocardiogram was published by Einthoven only in 1902, however. It then took until the 1950s for the first pacemakers, while the first defibrillators appeared only in the 1980s.

In 1976, nearly 2,000 pacemakers were already being implanted every year in Belgium. Our country was accordingly the first to keep a national register of such implants which apprises us down to the present day that the batteries used in pacemakers at the time lasted 32 months on average. This register was presented for the first time to the “VIth World Symposium on Cardiac Pacing” held in Montreal in October 1979. Pacemakers were at the time still re-used from one patient to another.

On 12 September 1980, a number of Belgian cardiologists with a particular interest in the electric treatment of cardiac rhythm disorders decided to create the “Cardiac Stimulation Workgroup” within the “Belgian Cardiology Society,” then in its infancy. The pioneers behind this initiative were Hugo Ector (Leuven), Etienne Installé (Yvoir), Roland Stroobandt (Ostend) and Henri Kulbertus (Liège).

The first Belgian Cardiac Pacing congress was held in Leuven on 10 October 1981. Since then, various members of the group have had an opportunity to organise the annual edition of the symposium in the different Belgian Heart Rhythm Centres. The event has become professional since 2007, however, and the annual congress is held in Brussels.

In 1984, an international symposium on pacemakers brought 180 participants from 21 countries to Leuven. In 1993, the Europace congress organised in Ostend attracted 1,400 participants.

On 22 October 2003, the Group decided to get organised as a non-profit association called the “Belgian Working Group on Cardiac Pacing and Electrophysiology”. Then, after joining the European Heart Rhythm Association, the organisation opted for the current name of “Belgian Heart Rhythm Association” on 1 April 2009.

The Group’s aim has always been and still remains to promote optimal care for patients suffering from cardiac rhythm disorders in Belgium.