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New Program Helps Reduce Risk of Reoccurring Heart Attacks
by Valerie Anderson and Maureen Vaught Minority Nurse Writer
A new program, Get With the Guidelines, is playing an important role in heart disease prevention by significantly increasing the number of health care providers who follow the American Heart Association (AHA)’s guidelines for preventing second heart attacks. This program is especially important for minority patients because coronary disease is the leading cause of death and disability among racial and ethnic groups.
The need for this program was revealed in recent reports that found doctors and hospitals were not always following these guidelines. In a 1999 Journal of the American Medical Association article, researchers found only half of the eligible candidates for second heart attacks received beta-blockers, slightly more than half received ACE inhibitors and only two-thirds were treated with clot busters.
This treatment gap may be a contributing factor in many reoccurring heart attacks and other cardiovascular events. According to AHA statistics, within six years after an attack, 18% of men and 35% of women will have another heart attack, and about 22% of men and 46% of women will be disabled with heart failure.
Get With the Guidelines is an AHA in-hospital program that notably improved the number of individuals receiving standardized care for heart disease--including drugs to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, smoking cessation counseling and referrals to physical activity programs.
As part of Get With the Guidelines, hospitals focus on ongoing data measurement and rapid movement cycles using a Web-based, real-time patient management tool. The tool provides hospitals with immediate access to the guidelines customized for each patient to reduce risk factors.