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St. Luke`s implements American Heart Association`s Get With the Guidelines program

Friday, July 09, 2004

MILWAUKEE, Wis, St. Luke's Medical Center, Milwaukee announced it has received recognition from the American Heart Association as a Get With The Guidelines(SM) - Coronary Artery Disease hospital. The recognition signifies that St. Luke's is participating in the American Heart Association Get With The Guidelines program, a quality improvement initiative designed to reduce the risk of recurrent heart attacks by helping hospital staff follow proven standards 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 and 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 Lynn Smaha, M.D., Ph.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 St. Luke's implement appropriate standards of care and protocols that will reduce the number of recurrent events and death in these patients.``

``St. Luke's is dedicated to making our cardiac care among the best in the country, and implementing the American Heart Association's Get With The Guidelines program will help us accomplish this by making it easier for our professionals to improve the long-term outcome for our cardiac patients,`` said Anjan Gupta, M.D., a cardiologist at St. Luke's Medical Center.

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.

Get With The Guidelines 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 St. Luke's Medical Center 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 GuidelinesSM program was implemented nationwide, more than 80,000 lives could be saved each year.

The American Heart Association program, developed with support from an unrestricted educational grant from Merck & Co., Inc., is being implemented in hospitals around the country. For more information on Get With The GuidelinesSM, visit www.americanheart.org and type "Get With The Guidelines" into the search box.

St. Luke's Medical Center is a part of Aurora Health Care, a not-for-profit Wisconsin health care provider and a nationally recognized leader in efforts to improve the quality of health care. Aurora offers services at sites in 80 communities throughout eastern Wisconsin.

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