Initiative helps close treatment gap in secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease and primary prevention of stroke

           

The UNM Hospital Cardiology clinics recently became the first in the state to participate in the American Heart Association "Get with the Guidelines-Coronary Artery Disease" program.   AHA representatives recently made a presentation to members of the Division of Cardiology within the UNM School of Medicine Department of Internal Medicine for implementing the association's "Get With the Guidelines-Coronary Artery Disease" program.  Projections have shown more than 80,000 lives could be saved each year if the American Heart Association guidelines were implemented nationwide.

"Increasingly hospitals across the country are coming under scrutiny for their quality improvement initiatives," said Warren Laskey, M.D., division chief for Cardiology.  "We believe the Heart Association guidelines set the gold standard for the way that cardiology should be practiced."

The quality improvement initiative is designed to reduce the risk of recurrent heart attacks by helping hospital staff follow proven evidence-based guidelines and procedures while coronary patients are in their care.  Under the program, coronary patients are started on aggressive risk reduction therapies such as cholesterol-lowering drugs, aspirin, ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers in the hospital and receive smoking cessation and weight management counseling and referrals for cardiac rehabilitation before being discharged.  These standards of care are outlined in the American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology secondary prevention guidelines for patients with coronary artery disease.

            "The full implementation of secondary prevention guidelines is a critical step in saving the lives of coronary patients," said Gray Ellrodt, M.D., American Heart Association volunteer chairman for the national Get With The Guidelines project. "The American Heart Association's Get With The Guidelines program is designed to help hospitals like UNM Hospital implement appropriate evidence-based guidelines for care and protocols that will reduce the number of recurrent events and death in these patients."

            According to the American Heart Association, more than 450,000 people suffer recurrent heart attacks each year.  Statistics also show that within six years after a heart attack, about 22 percent of men and 46 percent of women will be disabled with heart failure.  Within one year of an attack, 25 percent of men and 38 percent of women will die.

                                                                                                                                               

            Research indicates that when patients are discharged from the hospital on appropriate medications such as aspirin, beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors and lipid-lowering medicines, a patient's risk of a second event is reduced and lives are saved.

            "We are dedicated to making our cardiac unit among the best in the country, and implementing the American Heart Association's Get With the Guidelines-CAD program will help us accomplish this by making it easier for our professionals to improve the long-term outcome for our cardiac patients," said Laskey.

            The American Heart Association program, developed with support from an unrestricted educational grant from Merck & Co., Inc., is being implemented in hospitals around the country.  For more information on Get With The Guidelines, visit www.americanheart.org/getwiththeguidelines.

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Contact: Cindy Foster, 272-3322