Hospitals to use program to better treat patients with irregular heartbeat

June 19, 2013 Categories: Program News

DALLAS, June 19, 2013 — Healthcare providers have a new tool to help identify and better treat people with an irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation (AFib).

Enrollment is open for the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines®-AFIB. This hospital-based program helps providers develop treatment plans that help reduce risks for AFib patients. Those treatments include the safe use and monitoring of blood thinners to prevent stroke and heart-rate controlling medications to prevent heart failure.

Nearly 3 million Americans suffer from atrial fibrillation. With more people expected to suffer from the condition as the population ages, healthcare providers are hoping the new program will improve outcomes and reduce treatment costs.

 “Better control of atrial fibrillation is likely to reduce readmission for heart failure patients,” said William R. Lewis, M.D., chair of the Get With The Guidelines-AFIB work group and chief of clinical cardiology for MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio. “Get With The Guidelines has been shown to reduce the cost of treating patients with stroke and heart failure, as well as to improve adherence to anticoagulation guidelines in the stroke module.”

AFib accounts for one-third of hospitalizations for cardiac rhythm disturbance. Patients with AFib are five times more likely to suffer a stroke and have a higher risk for blood clots, heart failure and other heart-related complications.

Studies have shown that blood-thinning medications coupled with appropriate patient monitoring is key to controlling the risk of stroke in patients with AFib. In six major placebo-controlled trials, the common blood thinner warfarin reduced stroke 68 percent compared to a placebo.

However, some physicians may feel warfarin could increase bleeding. Get With The Guidelines-AFIB will help identify appropriate patients, use proper protocols for treatment, monitor success and find solutions for better outcomes.

In addition to the patient management tool, the program collects data and provides participating hospitals feedback on their performance. Aggregate program data tracks hospital performance against the guidelines and national benchmarks.

“In our hospital, we are always looking for ways to improve outcomes, and having a quality improvement program to assist us in the treatment and care for these patients is helpful,” Lewis said.

Get With The Guidelines is the largest national hospital-based quality improvement program for cardiovascular disease, including stroke and heart failure, and resuscitation. More than 42 percent of U.S. hospitals participate in the association’s quality of care programs that has a database of nearly 5.5 million patient records.

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association's Get With The Guidelines-Atrial Fibrillation program is made possible with funding from Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

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The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association receives funding mostly from individuals. Foundations and corporations donate as well, and fund specific programs and events. Strict policies are enforced to prevent these relationships from influencing the association’s science content. Financial information for the American Heart Association, including a list of contributions from pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers, is available at www.heart.org/corporatefunding.

QI13 – 1000 (AFib-HCLeaders)

Additional Resources:

For Media Inquiries: (214) 706-1173
Michael Burton: (214) 706-1236; michael.burton@heart.org
Cathy Lewis: (214) 706-1324; cathy.lewis@heart.org
For Public Inquiries: (800) AHA-USA1 (242-8721)