Quality improvement program enhances heart care, closes gender gap

Orlando, Fla. Using a low-cost, hospital quality improvement program substantially improved care for heart attack patients and significantly reduced treatment differences for men and women in one year, researchers reported today at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2003.

The program helped hospitals improve in basic care such as increasing aspirin use during a heart attack by nearly 15 percent. The American Heart Association's Get With The Guidelines Coronary Artery Disease (GWTG- CADSM) program helps care teams build systems that ensure patients receive the best evidence-based medical treatment before they leave the hospital.

Researchers performed two analyses on the database of the first 27,825 patients treated at 123 hospitals across the country. The program is used in more than 400 hospitals.

One analysis, led by Kenneth A. LaBresh, M.D., a clinical associate professor of medicine at Brown University in Providence, R.I., reported significant improvement in all 10 measures of treatment quality. Measures are based on the American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology secondary prevention guidelines.

LaBresh, also director of hospital projects at MassPro, Inc. in Waltham, Mass., noted that one inexpensive, but effective, treatment the early use of aspirin during a heart attack increased from 75.3 percent at baseline to 89.2 percent. Also, the use of beta-blockers at the time of heart attack rose from 62 percent at baseline to 84.7 percent.

Results were impressive for all guidelines. For example, at baseline, only 57.2 percent of patients who smoked received counseling to quit. The figure rose to 81.6 percent for hospitals that had used the GWTG-CADSM program for a year.

The second analysis compared how male and female heart attack patients were treated in five key secondary prevention areas at hospital discharge. This study was led by Gray Ellrodt, M.D., chair of medicine at Berkshire Medical Cen

Contact: Carole Bullock
American Heart Association

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