New initiative to get heart, stroke treatment guidelines to patients faster

Monday, 27 April 2015

The American Heart Association is a leader in developing science-based treatment guidelines known to improve outcomes for heart disease and stroke patients. But getting those guidelines consistently used in patient care can often take years. That’s why the association is launching a new initiative that will not only speed up the process for developing guidelines, but also help doctors know about and use them sooner and more often.

The Guideline Transformation and Optimization program, or GTO, will launch in a step approach because the association has many guidelines to address heart disease and stroke treatment. The first focus is 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).

The GTO program will address the issue from several angles:

  • Improve the model for developing guidelines to more quickly move science into practice.
  • Increase the awareness of the guidelines and the results they bring, and make it easier for providers to implement them.
  • Offer recognition for providers who correctly and consistently apply the guidelines.
  • Provide resources for patients to follow the guidelines in managing their condition.

“Bringing these research discoveries about optimal treatments to patients sooner can positively influence the American Heart Association’s impact goal to reduce deaths from cardiovascular disease and stroke by 20% by 2020,” said Alice Jacobs, M.D., an American Heart Association past president and former chair of the ACCF/AHA Guidelines Task Force. “We develop our guidelines based on the most up-to-date quality research, and we know when patients are treated according to the guidelines, their outcomes are significantly improved. We want clinicians and patients to know and understand the importance of following these recommendations.”

A three-year educational grant from AstraZeneca makes the NSTE-ACS guidelines initiative possible.

“We are proud to support the American Heart Association’s investment in this important health initiative that will provide a powerful and lasting standard of care for very ill patients,” said Steven Zelenkofske, D.O., Vice President, US Medical Affairs, Cardiovascular, AstraZeneca. “Our mission to change health outcomes for patients on a meaningful scale goes beyond delivering important medicines, and includes supporting and partnering with effective organizations like the AHA as they implement evidence-based standards of care, and educate and empower patients and caregivers to manage their cardiovascular risks.”

“We’ll measure success of the GTO program through reduced hospital readmissions and lower death rates, as well as improvements in medication adherence and compliance with the practice guidelines,” Jacobs said. “We also anticipate improvements in the quality of care, quality of life, and patient awareness and understanding.”

The first programs will officially roll out in the second half of 2015.

About the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association

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

Cathy Lewis (214) 706-1324;