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Lowell General Hospital implements coronary artery disease program


LOWELL — Lowell General Hospital announced it has received recognition from the American Heart Association as a “Get With The Guidelines — Coronary Artery Disease” hospital. The recognition signifies that Lowell General is participating in the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines program. The quality improvement initiative is designed to reduce the risk of recurrent heart attacks by helping hospital staff follow proven evidence-based guidelines and procedures while coronary patients are in their care.

Under the program, coronary patients are started on aggressive risk reduction therapies such as cholesterol-lowering drugs, aspirin, ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers in the hospital. These patients also receive smoking cessation and weight management counseling and referrals for cardiac rehabilitation before being discharged. These standards of care are outlined in the American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology secondary prevention guidelines for patients with coronary artery disease.

“The full implementation of secondary prevention guidelines is a critical step in saving the lives of coronary patients,” said Gray Ellrodt, M.D., American Heart Association volunteer chairman for the national Get With The Guidelines project. “The American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines program is designed to help hospitals like Lowell General implement appropriate evidence-based guidelines for care and protocols that will reduce the number of recurrent events and death in these patients.”

According to the American Heart Association, more than 450,000 people suffer recurrent heart attacks each year. Statistics also show that within six years after a heart attack, about 22 percent of men and 46 percent of women will be disabled with heart failure. Within one year of an attack, 25 percent of men and 38 percent of women will die.

Research indicates that when patients are discharged from the hospital on appropriate medications such as aspirin, beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors and lipid-lowering medicines, a patients’ risk of a second event is reduced and lives are saved.

“We are dedicated to making our cardiac unit among the best in the country,” said Lowell General Hospital CEO and President Normand Deschene. “Implementing the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines — CAD program will help us accomplish this by making it easier for our professionals to improve the long-term outcome for our cardiac patients.”

Get With The Guidelines is designed to help Lowell General’s staff develop and implement a secondary prevention guideline process. The program includes quality-improvement measures such as care maps, discharge protocols, standing orders and measurement tools. Designed to be quick and efficient, these guideline tools will enable Lowell General to improve the quality of care it provides cardiac patients, save lives and ultimately, reduce healthcare costs by lowering the recurrence of heart attacks. Projections have shown that if the Get With The Guidelines — CAD program was implemented nationwide, more than 80,000 lives could be saved each year.