DALLAS, August 17, 2022 — Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a heart attack. To help improve cardiac care and save lives, the American Heart Association and The Joint Commission have launched a new certification to ensure hospitals at every level of cardiac treatment are providing effective care for patients experiencing even the most time-sensitive heart attacks. The Comprehensive Heart Attack Center (CHAC) certification, launched July 1, completes a full suite of available cardiac systems of care and establishes a new category for certification by both national organizations.
Hospitals referring and receiving heart attack patients have specific roles in the heart attack system of care, and each party should be prepared to collaboratively perform evidence-based, lifesaving treatment.
“Having certified hospitals in a community can help systems of care function more effectively, with clear direction on where to take patients,” said Edward Jauch, M.D., volunteer member of the American Heart Association Quality Certification Science Committee and chair of the Department of Research at UNC Health Sciences at Mountain Area Health Education Center, in Asheville, North Carolina. “Because of the nation’s aging population and the importance of timely treatment, cardiac and stroke systems of care are more important than ever.”
The American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary organization focused on heart and brain health for all, and The Joint Commission, a global driver of quality improvement and patient safety in health care, offer these certifications to recognize institutions dedicated to following the latest science-based guidelines in heart attack care:
- Level III: Acute Heart Attack Ready (AHAR) — For heart attack systems of care referring hospitals that may or may not perform primary percutaneous coronary interventions (PCIs).
- Level II: Primary Heart Attack Center (PHAC) — Ideal for hospitals performing primary PCI around the clock, all year long.
- Level I: Comprehensive Heart Attack Center (CHAC) — This new certification level is for hospitals performing cardiac surgical services and primary PCI around the clock, all year long.
- Comprehensive Cardiac Center — For hospitals providing care for every touch point in the cardiac care continuum.
“This comprehensive framework ensures all patients have access to appropriate, comprehensive heart attack care when it matters,” says Mariell Jessup, M.D., FAHA, chief science and medical officer at the American Heart Association. “Providing evidence-based care that improves quality and outcomes for patients is central to the work of the American Heart Association. The new certification joins our existing heart attack certifications to help hospitals elevate their cardiac programs, improving consistency of care for every patient.”
Once certified, hospitals have access to an online community, education, resources, quality improvement consultants, a marketing toolkit and the opportunity to participate in an advisory group.
- Spanish news release
- New hospital certification evaluates quality of care for most complex, critically ill cardiac patients
- New certifications will improve on chain of survival for heart attack patients – press release announcing previous cardiac certifications, March 6, 2019
- Advanced cardiac certifications from the American Heart Association and the Joint Commission
- Systems of Care for ST-Segment–Elevation Myocardial Infarction: A Policy Statement From the American Heart Association, as published in Circulation 10/13/2021
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.
About The Joint Commission
Founded in 1951, The Joint Commission seeks to continuously improve healthcare for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating healthcare organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value. The Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 22,000 healthcare organizations and programs in the United States. An independent, nonprofit organization, The Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. Learn more about The Joint Commission at www.jointcommission.org.
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 Circulation. 2022;145:e153–e639. https://doi.org/10.1161/CIR.0000000000001052.