The American Heart Association is adding atrial fibrillation to its "Get With the Guidelines" program.
Get With the Guidelines has not previously addressed atrial fibrillation. But the current lack of a consistent treatment paradigm suggests the need for a unified strategy, Dr. Lee H. Schwamm said in a press statement.
"While scientifically proven therapies and approaches to treatment exist for patients with atrial fibrillation, wide gaps, variations and disparities remain in the quality of care for people with this common heart rhythm disorder," said Dr. Schwamm, chairman of the Get With the Guidelines National Steering Committee and professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School in Boston. "By improving the care of patients with atrial fibrillation through the GWTG program, we can save lives and prevent serious complications, such as stroke."
The atrial fibrillation program will provide the "blueprint" for an atrial fibrillation treatment strategy. While its primary function is as a clinical improvement guide, the program will also serve as a data collection tool, according to the statement.
"[Data collection] gives participating hospitals feedback on their practice and patient outcomes and can be used to develop new evidence-based guidelines for in-hospital care for AF patients."
GWTG programs have consistently improved care in a number of cardiac disorders, as well as stroke care.
"Our Get With the Guidelines suite is the ideal home for a nationwide atrial fibrillation quality improvement module, because participation in these programs has proven to make a difference in the quality of care and outcomes for patients with heart disease and stroke," Schwamm said. "In the last decade, numerous scientific studies have shown Get With the Guidelines participating hospitals are more likely to adhere to national guideline-recommended therapies than other U.S. hospitals."
Last year, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology collaborated on an updated evidence review of atrial fibrillation treatment recommendations.
The association already offers a number of clinical and patient resources on its website.
"Get With the Guidelines" is the largest national hospital-based program dedicated to quality of care improvement for patients with cardiovascular disease, including targeted initiatives in stroke, heart failure and resuscitation. More than 42% of U.S. hospitals participate in the quality initiative.
Enrollment in the new atrial fibrillation module should begin within the next year. Boehringer Ingelheim will provide funding to support the American Heart Association’s GWTG–Atrial Fibrillation program.