American Heart Association moves toward faster guideline implementation

 This brings to life the association’s new Guideline Transformation and Optimization (GTO) initiative to streamline the development and implementation of research-based guidelines that can improve patient outcomes.

GTO is launching in a step approach with the first focus on improving the use of guidelines for treating the more than 515,000 Americans each year who have a type of heart attack related to a condition known as non ST segment elevation Acute Coronary Syndrome (NSTE-ACS).

During the association’s annual Scientific Sessions in Orlando, Nov. 7-11, attendees will get a first look at the new NSTE-ACS Pocket Guidelines and the NSTE-ACS Professional Resource Center. The addition of the new and innovative NSTE-ACS measures and tools will allow professionals to close serious gaps in the system of care and better coordinate efforts when every minute counts.

“The American Heart Association is focused on rapidly translating guidelines into clinical practice,” said Alice Jacobs, M.D., an American Heart Association past president and former chair of the ACCF/AHA Guidelines Task Force. “The tools and resources being created are highly valuable for educating medical professionals, but it is the method the American Heart Association is using to deliver the tools and resources that will make GTO effective.”

The online NSTE-ACS Professional Resource Center will make it easy for medical professionals to access the latest guidelines, as well as tools to ensure guidelines adherence. Resources will include webinars of case and/or didactic presentations, debates and interactive discussions over the NSTE-ACS Guidelines. There is also an e-book multimedia reference that uses videos, slide sets, recorded presentations, monographs, e-modules and other digital resources to help providers better understand and easily apply the most recent knowledge of the NSTE-ACS guidelines.

The NSTE-ACS Pocket Guideline tool is based on the 2014 American Heart Association/ American College of Cardiology Guideline for Management of Patients with Non-ST-Elevation Acute Coronary Syndromes. This pocket guideline incorporates tables and algorithms that present diagnostic and management approaches in a concise manner while offering more direct information about the latest guidelines.

Additionally, the association is expanding its Mission: Lifeline initiative, launched in 2007 to speed treatment for patients having a ST segment elevation myocardial infarction, or STEMI, often considered the most deadly type of heart attack. This expansion will improve systems of care for all patients who suffer acute coronary syndrome (ACS), an umbrella term for situations where the blood supplied to the heart muscle is suddenly blocked. The initiative further extends the system of care beyond the patient’s hospital stay to encourage referral and enrollment into cardiac rehabilitation programs. While evidence shows significant benefits of cardiac rehab, less than a third of eligible heart attack survivors participate in a formal program.

“Hospitals and systems of care currently treating STEMI patients will now be able to expand their reach to all patients with heart attacks using the same integrated approach created by Mission: Lifeline,” said Jacobs, Professor of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine & Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs, Department of Medicine at Boston Medical Center. “Targeted professional and patient education, best practice sharing opportunities, a comprehensive, yet easy-to-use dashboard to access STEMI and NSTEMI data and extension of our recognition program to participation in cardiac rehabilitation supports our goal to ensure that all patients receive the right treatment at the right time, both in and out of the hospital.”

A three-year educational grant from AstraZeneca supports the NSTE-ACS module of the GTO initiative. Other modules will roll out in the near future.

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The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association receives funding mostly from individuals. Foundations and corporations donate as well, and fund specific programs and events. Strict policies are enforced to prevent these relationships from influencing the association’s science content. Financial information for the American Heart Association, including a list of contributions from pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers, is available at


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