AHA, Society of Chest Pain Centers Join Forces to Reduce Heart Disease Deaths


A joint agreement seeks to improve cardiac care, specifically the care of patients suffering from ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction.

The Society of Chest Pain Centers (SCPC), an international organization committed to the elimination of heart disease as the number one cause of death, and The American Heart Association a national organization dedicated to the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and stroke, today announced they will be joining efforts to save even more lives.

The joint agreement seeks to improve cardiac care, specifically the care of patients suffering from ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction or “STEMI”. Both organizations will see this goal accomplished by establishing a collaborative framework for hospital accreditation that meets criteria as set forth in the American Heart Association initiative Mission: Lifeline.

“Each year, almost 250,000 people suffer from a deadly type of heart attack known in the medical community as a STEMI, which occurs when blood flow is completely blocked to the heart,” Ralph Sacco, MD, president of the American Heart Association (AHA), said in a statement. “Restoring blood flow to the heart is crucial in achieving optimal outcomes, but 30% of these patients receive no reperfusion treatment at all.”

In an effort to improve the processes surrounding the care of the STEMI patient, the AHA launched Mission: Lifeline in 2007. Mission: Lifeline seeks to improve these outcomes by breaking down and eliminating the obstacles that keep patients from accessing and receiving appropriate treatments.

Mission: Lifeline systems start with the 911 call or at the point of entry in the emergency system, continues through the catheterization laboratory, and through hospital discharge by promoting best practices that are identified using the very latest scientific evidence-based treatment for STEMI. Mission: Lifeline systems currently cover over 56% of the United States. Mortality rates from STEMI have decreased from 5.8% in 2008 to 4.8% in 2010.

“When the Society of Chest Pain Centers was approached by the American Heart Association to work together in a joint effort to improve STEMI care, the partnership seemed a natural fit,” said James McCord MD, ex-officio with the society board of trustees and current cardiology director of the chest pain decision unit at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit.

“SCPC, through their Chest Pain Center accreditation, had already improved cardiac processes in close to 14% of hospitals within the US and had moved this accreditation to the international setting,” said Michael Ross, MD, current society board president. In July, SCPC plans to launch atrial fibrillation certification, along with a different model of Chest Pain Center accreditation that addresses the specific challenges faced by freestanding emergency departments and critical access hospitals. Additionally, SCPC continues to grow their accreditation program for heart failure.

Collaboration between these two non-profit organizations, who share similar missions, will help bring consistency to health care delivery by providing a standard approach to the treatment of STEMI. The SCPC will assist the AHA in implementing, developing, and managing the Mission: Lifeline accreditation. SCPC and the AHA mutually agree that providing cardiac accreditation programs is in the best interest of patients, meets the needs of the health care community, and will help to significantly reduce cardiac deaths.

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