Efforts over the past decade to improve the quality of care for cardiovascular disease patients and increase the use of evidence-based treatments have led to a significant drop in the rate of hospitalisations and deaths, according to a new study released in the journal Circulation. The results are welcome news and emphasise the value of recent efforts by the cardiovascular community to support the delivery of timely, high-quality care to patients. This news also underscores the need to remain committed to efforts to improve outcomes and access to appropriate heart disease care.
According to the study’s authors, the new report is the most comprehensive look at America’s progress in preventing and treating heart disease to date. The study found US hospitalisation rates dropped significantly for cardiovascular disease patients from 1999-2011, including:
- 38% drop among heart attack patients
- 83.8% decline among patients with unstable angina, or sudden and severe chest pain that may lead to a heart attack
The risk of dying within one year of hospitalisation also dropped 21% for patients with unstable angina and 23% for heart attack patients.
“The new report shows we are continuing to make significant progress in improving heart disease outcomes as quality improvement initiatives expand,” says the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) 2014-15 president Charles Chambers. “This is good news for patients and for the caregivers working hard to continuously improve care.”
Quality has been central to SCAI’s mission since it was founded nearly 40 years ago. In recent years, SCAI has developed a number of new tools and programmes to improve quality, including:
- Co-sponsorship of the Accreditation for Cardiovascular Excellence (ACE) programme to promote and uphold high-quality patient care and improve patient safety in facilities where invasive cardiac and endovascular procedures are performed.
- The SCAI Quality Improvement Toolkit (SCAI-QIT), which provides a portfolio of resources for continuously improving cath lab quality.
- Educational programmes, such as the Cath Lab Leadership Boot Camp.
- A robust library of practice guidelines and appropriate use criteria, developed by SCAI in collaboration with partner societies.
Efforts such as these are proving beneficial in lives saved, shorter hospital stays and greater quality of life for patients. As rates of obesity, diabetes and other risk factors continue to rise in this country, it will be important to remain focused on continuing to improve care.
“The report shows cardiovascular outcomes are improving, to a point where one day, as the authors state, we may be able to remove cardiovascular disease from among the top causes of death and disability in this country,” says Chambers. “To make this a reality, it will be important to continue to work together and to ensure quality initiatives are implemented nationwide.”
The study was based on data from 34 million Medicare Fee-for-Service claims from 1999 through 2011. Researchers reviewed trends in hospitalisation, dying within a month of admission, readmission within one month and dying within one year. They also compared patient demographics including age, sex, race, geography and co-existing conditions.