Experts Point to Best Centers for Heart Attack Care

Hospitals that adhere to guidelines boost patient outcomes

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WEDNESDAY, May 10, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Expert researchers are offering a new way for patients to find a hospital near them offering excellent heart attack care.

A team led by Dr. William R. Lewis -- chief of clinical cardiology at MetroHealth Medical Center and associate professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio -- examined the relationship between adherence to American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology (AHA/ACC) heart attack treatment guidelines and the 50 top U.S. heart hospitals, as ranked by U.S. News and World Report.

The magazine's rankings are based on hospital reputation, death figures and other measures indicating quality of care.

The team focused on six clinical measures of acute heart care and determined how well the 50 hospitals met the AHA/ACC guidelines. They then compared those rankings to hospitals listed in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' "Hospital Compare" database.

According to Lewis's team, the magazine's top-rated heart hospitals complied with AHA/ACC guidelines better than hospitals listed in the HHS database.

"Adherence to these guidelines saves lives and lowers mortality for men and women, and improves quality of life," Lewis said in a prepared statement.

The measures that he and his colleagues evaluated included: the use of aspirin and beta blockers on hospital admission and discharge; the use of ACE inhibitor therapy; and smoking-cessation counseling.

"These parameters are important in treating heart attack patients according to the best evidence-based therapy," Lewis said.

The study found:

  • Aspirin was used on admission in 97 percent of the top 50 hospitals, compared with 94.3 percent of the Hospital Compare hospitals,
  • Beta blockers were used on admission in 94.7 percent of the top 50 hospitals, compared with 88.9 percent of other hospitals,
  • Aspirin was used on discharge in 97.8 percent of top 50 hospitals and in 91.2 percent of other hospitals,
  • Beta blockers were used on discharge in 96.1 percent of top 50 hospitals and in 89.7 percent of other hospitals,
  • ACE inhibitor therapy was used in 84.6 percent of top 50 hospitals and in 77.3 percent of other hospitals,
  • Smoking cessation counseling was provided by 82.3 percent of top 50 hospitals and by 78.3 percent of other hospitals.

The findings were reported Tuesday at the AHA's 7th Scientific Forum on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research in Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke, held in Washington, D.C.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about heart attack treatments.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, May 9, 2006

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