The society was originally formed in the 1960s because there was a need for a forum for discussion of issues in cardiac pacing emerging in its early days. An international meeting in New York was convened by William Glenn in 1963. In effect, this was the first World Congress although it focused mainly on cardiac pacing. It was followed by a more formal meeting in 1968 which was published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1969 as 'Advances in Cardiac Pacemakers' Edited by Seymour Furman, Hans Lagergren and Edgar Sowton. This was the second World Congress which set a high academic level. The rapid growth of pacing promoted further congresses, in 1970 in Monaco run by Bernard Dodinot of Nancy, France, the next established a three-year cycle in 1973 Groningen, NL run by Hilbert von Thalen of that city. 1973 also saw the establishment of the society, the International Cardiac Pacing Society (ICPS). The founders were Seymour Furman (New York), Victor Parsonnet (Newark, NJ) and Warren Harthorne (Boston). All the names mentioned above must be regarded as pioneers in our field although many more greatly contributed. 1976 saw the World Congress in Tokyo, Japan run by Motokazu Hori (Tokyo). In 1978, the society changed its name to the International Cardiac Pacing and Electrophysiology Society (ICPES) due to the convergence of interest of cardiologists and cardiac surgeons in this subspecialty and recognition of the importance of electrical stimulation in cardiac electrophysiology. The mission of ICPES was to promote worldwide education in the fields of cardiac pacing and electrophysiology; its primary function was the awarding of the site and date of this quadrennial Congress devoted to cardiac pacing and electrophysiology, the confirmation of the Secretary-General, and the general oversight of its planning and progress. The Board of the society was composed of invitees, mostly pioneers in the field from around the world, who were all on a voluntary basis. A membership was not recruited. The financial backing of the society stemmed from the funds generated by the congresses.

The next congress was in Montreal, Canada 1979 run by Claude Meere coinciding with a change to a 4-year cycle of congresses bringing Vienna, Austria 1983 (Konrad Steinbach), Jerusalem, Israel 1987 (Shlomo Feldman), Washington, DC, USA (Jerry Griffin) combined with the North American Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology now the Heart Rhythm Society, Buenos Aires, Argentina 1995 (Alejandro Dussaut), Berlin, Germany 1999 (Eckhardt Alt), Hong Kong, China (Chu Pak Lau) 2003, Rome, Italy (Massimo Santini) 2007. Between 2007 and 2011, the society renamed itself, the World Society of Arrhythmias giving greater scope for education in all branches of the subject around the world. There followed in 2011 the next congress in Athens, Greece (Panos Vardas) which was severely prejudiced by Greece's internal political disturbances at that time resulting in low attendance. The congress then moved to Beijing, China (Shu Zhang), Buenos Aires, Argentina (Oscar Oseroff) in 2019 and most recently in Istanbul, Turkey (Ali Oto) 2023. During the pandemic and since, the Board has reformulated itself with a view to becoming a Membership society with more frequent congresses, a regular educational programme, a full establishment of Officers plus Subcommittees and, in the future, having a central office.

The aims of the society remain to provide education in arrhythmias to the parts of the world where it is scarce and to collaborate with all other established world Arrhythmia societies.

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