AHA Efforts To Reduce Preventable Deaths In Heart Failure Patients

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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An article, “Rehospitalizations among Patients in the Medicare,” published today in The New England Journal of Medicine, found that almost 20 percent of 11,855,702 Medicare beneficiaries discharged from a hospital were rehospitalized within 30 days. The annual cost to Medicare for this rehospitalization is $17.4 billion.

Of the disease states detailed in the study, heart failure costs the U.S. an estimated $33 billion annually and is the most frequent cause of hospitalizations and rehospitalization for Medicare beneficiaries. In this study, 26.9 percent of heart failure patients were rehospitalized within 30 days. Many rehospitalizations for heart failure are preventable.

Understanding the strain that heart failure has on the healthcare system, the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines Heart Failure (GWTG-HF) program is helping hospitals improve the care they provide to patients. GWTG-HF has been associated with over a 20 percent reduction in the likelihood of rehospitalization or death in the first 60 days, which is the period of highest risk, with the goal of improving care for patients with heart disease and stroke.

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GWTG-HF is designed to improve the quality of care in patients hospitalized with heart failure. The program aims to help ensure that eligible patients are initiated on guideline recommended therapies and receive appropriate counseling prior to hospital discharge.

“Heart failure is one of the most common, costly, and deadly conditions,” said Gregg C. Fonarow M.D., chair of the GWTG Steering Committee. “While evidence-based, guideline recommended therapies are available, there are marked gaps, unexplained variations, and disparities in their use. GWTG-HF helps hospitals provide the highest quality patient centered care and ensures the right patient gets the right education and therapies at the right time, each and every time.”

Currently, 460 US hospitals are enrolled in GWTG-HF and are treating more than 275,000 heart failure patients. In March 2009, The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association announced advanced certification in heart failure to recognize centers that make exceptional efforts to foster better outcomes for heart failure patients. The Joint Commission requires hospitals to be a recognized participant in the association’s GWTG-HF program before they can apply for advanced certification.

"The American Heart Association is very sensitive to this issue. We have a tool that works. Get With The Guidelines-Heart Failure has been proven to improve quality of care which improves outcomes. We believe that hospitals that seek to improve outcomes for these patients should consider the quality focused approach that the American Heart Association has pioneered, tested and validated. We are a science driven patient-centric organization and we are committed to improving outcomes for all patients with cardiovascular disease and stroke."

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