Doctors, researchers and scientists are in Toronto for the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress, where they are discussing the latest research, technology and developments in heart health. 

The theme of this year's conference, which convened Saturday and runs until Tuesday, is "Innovation and Collaboration: Pathways to the Heart," said meeting chair Dr. Todd Anderson.

"Experts will return home to their labs and medical practices armed with new tools and knowledge that will improve the health of people in communities across Canada," he said in a statement.

Here's a look at a few of the highlights from the congress:

Screening for cardiac risk before it happens

On Sunday, researchers with the CASPER registry discussed their work on assessing families at risk of an unexplained cardiac arrest. 

Unexplained cardiac arrest may be caused by inherited heart rhythm problems (known as inherited arrhythmia syndrome), the congress said in a statement released Monday.

The researchers from the CASPER registry performed assessments of first-degree family members of survivors of unexplained cardiac arrest, as well as victims of sudden unexplained death. They found that performing detailed cardiac screening, including genetic testing, revealed heart abnormalities in nearly a third of the first-degree relatives.

"It's confirmation that systemic cascade screening and genetic testing in asymptomatic family members can identify vulnerable family members, and lead to preventive lifestyle and/or medical treatments – protecting vulnerable relatives from sudden death," the congress said in a statement.

Using tech to promote exercise in children with heart disease

Dr. Kevin Harris, a pediatric cardiologist at the BC Children's Hospital, looked at the possibility technology can help encourage children born with heart defects to exercise more.

Children born with heart defects, known as congenital heart disease (CHD), are less active and less fit than children without CHD, the congress said.

Harris headed up a study that tested whether a combination of activity trackers and exercise prescriptions result in increased physical activity levels in young patients with CHD.

The study found that children who did not receive the combined intervention had decreased activity levels.

'Burst activity' improves heart health of diabetes patients

A study by the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress found that "burst activity," or spurts of high-intensity activity, can improve the heart health of diabetes patients.

Exercise has been an important part of the treatment for diabetes patients, but has historically been characterized by low-intensity, sustained activities, the congress said in a statement. Recently, studies have shown that short "bursts" of high-intensity exercise among healthy volunteers can have cardiometabolic benefits.

The CCC study looked at patients recently diagnosed with diabetes, and compared the impact of "burst" exercises and sustained exercises on their heart health.

Compared to the patients who performed the sustained exercises, patients that performed the burst exercises, exercised 27 per cent more, had a 2.3-fold greater improvement in blood glucose control, and saw significantly greater improvement in cholesterol levels, the congress said.

As well, these patients had improved BMI and cardiopulmonary fitness.

"Even among patients who exercised a similar number of minutes per day as the traditional low-intensity group, burst exercise resulted in greater improvements," the congress said in a statement. "A burst regime could be a simple and effective way to improve the heart health of individuals with diabetes."

Guest speaker Larry King

TV personality and former broadcaster Larry King, who is speaking at the congress and moderating one of the sessions, has a personal connection with the topic, having suffered a heart attack in 1987.

He told CTV's Canada AM that, prior to his heart attack, he led an unhealthy lifestyle that included eating poorly and chain-smoking cigarettes.

"Before that, I smoked three packs a day, and never thought about what I ate," he said, noting that he'd purposely choose the cigarette pack with the warning label about smoking during menopause as a way of avoiding the topic.

"I'd say, 'It ain't going to bother me,'" he said of the warning label.

Since his heart attack, and having heart surgery, King says he’s adopted a healthier lifestyle and turned his health around.