The American Medical Association’s Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement recently published new Performance Measures for Adults With Coronary Artery Disease and Hypertension, outlining new standards of care for patients with these cardiac disorders. Performance measures are designed to provide healthcare practitioners with guidelines to improve patient care. Cardiac disease is the leading cause of death in the United States (according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention).
The measures were recently published in both Circulation (the Journal of the American Heart Association) and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Marjorie King, M.D., Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation at Helen Hayes Hospital and past president of the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, was one of the authors of this important publication.
The writing committee considers the updated ten guidelines a significant departure from the original set of five, which was released in 2005. The new measures focus not just on cardiac treatment and medication management, but the control of lifestyle related cardiac risk factors including blood pressure, lipids, physical activity and tobacco use. A crucial new addition to the performance measures is referral to cardiac rehabilitation. “Through evidence-based care, we know that cardiac rehabilitation improves patient outcomes and these measures will help to ensure that cardiac patients have access to the care they need to get better,” says Dr. King.
“Cardiac Rehabilitation is underutilized, despite evidence that it improves quality of life, reduces modifiable cardiovascular risk factors, enhances adherence to preventive medications, and lowers the risks of morbidity and mortality,” according to the authors. The committee suggested that a far greater number of patients could benefit from cardiac rehabilitation than are currently being referred. Physicians are encouraged to refer patients who have had a recent heart attack, coronary artery bypass grafting, stent placement, cardiac valve surgery or cardiac transplantation to an outpatient cardiac rehab program.
Helen Hayes Hospital has a nationally recognized comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation service, certified by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation. Both inpatient and outpatient programs are tailored to a patient’s needs and include intensive therapies, supervised exercise, education and risk factor modification. Services are provided by a board certified cardiologist, nurses, exercise physiologist, physical therapists, and registered dieticians.