UConn Health Earns Gold Award for Heart Attack Care

Paramedics bring a patient to the UConn Health Emergency Department. (Lanny Nagler for UConn Health)
Paramedics bring a patient to the UConn Health Emergency Department. (Lanny Nagler for UConn Health)
Paramedics bring a patient to the UConn Health Emergency Department. (Lanny Nagler for UConn Health)
Paramedics bring a patient to the UConn Health Emergency Department. (Lanny Nagler for UConn Health, File Photo)

UConn Health has been named a 2015 Gold Award-winner in a nationwide initiative to guide hospital care to provide heart-attack victims with the greatest chance to survive.

The initiative, Get With The Guidelines, is a joint effort of the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, which have enlisted the support of the nation’s 4,500 acute care hospitals to reduce cardiovascular death.

Cardiovascular disease remains the number one killer of Americans, with 610,000 deaths recorded each year, yet many of those deaths can be prevented.

Each year, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recognize hospitals that have performed in an exceptional way in providing care to heart-attack victims according to evidence-based guidelines. UConn Health has been a gold medal winner for two consecutive years.

Anne Diamond, Chief Executive Officer of the UConn Health John Dempsey Hospital, says UConn Health’s Gold Award is very important to all those involved. “The award recognizes the exceptional teamwork of our physicians and nurses, our staff, and our local EMS,” she says, “but it is also important for our patients and community to know that our emergency department and our cardiologists provide the highest standard of care.”

Prompt and proper care of heart attack patients can save an estimated 75,000 lives each year.

“Our success in reducing our time from onset of heart attack to the opening of the blocked artery has already resulted in UConn’s recognition by the American Hospital Association for our outstanding performance in Mission Lifeline and the Connecticut Hospital Association award,” says Dr. Robert Fuller, chair of emergency medicine. “The AHA Gold Award is further evidence of the strides made in reducing suffering and death from heart disease.”

Dr. Bruce Liang, dean of the School of Medicine and chair of cardiology, says that while hospitals nationwide are improving performance in the management of acute episodes of care, more must be done in preventing heart disease.

“My own lab is working to find ways of reducing the damage caused by heart attack,” says Liang. “The loss of blood flow to the heart is only the beginning of the damage. Even after blood flow is restored the damage goes on. We are working to learn why, and how to stop that process – or even reverse it.”

Get With The Guidelines is based on the voluntary participation of hospitals that submit patient and performance data to the American College of Cardiology. The information is carefully risk-adjusted to account for severity of the disease, and tested against outcomes including mortality. The result is a set of evidence-based guidelines that any hospital can follow to generate improvements in the quality of care and maximize positive patient outcomes.