UNM Hospital has received Gold Performance Achievement Awards from the American Heart Association (AHA)/ American Stroke Association's "Get With the Guidelines" programs for its treatment of heart failure and stroke.

"Get With the Guidelines" is designed to ensure that hospitals consistently care for cardiac and stroke patients following the most up-to-date guidelines and recommendations. The program addresses coronary artery disease, heart failure and stroke. Currently more than 1,450 hospitals participate in the program. Hospitals are recognized in each category in which they achieve at least 85 percent compliance to "Get With the Guidelines" measures. Those hospitals marking 85 percent compliance for 24 consecutive months are given the Gold Performance Achievement Award.

UNM Hospital's Department of Cardiology received a Gold Performance Achievement Award for its compliance to AHA Guidelines for Heart Failure (HF). Some 5.7 million Americans are currently living HF and 670,000 new cases are diagnosed each year — up significantly from 500,000 cases annually just a few years ago.

"This is program truly is the ‘gold-standard' for hospital-based, cardiac care. It gives our professionals the tools and reports they need to effectively treat our coronary heart disease, heart failure and stroke patients," said Warren Laskey, M.D., Cardiology division chief within the UNM School of Medicine's Department of Medicine.

Strategies deployed in Get with the Guidelines-HF have proven successful in lowering 30-day mortality rates and readmissions in heart failure patients

"Our goal is always to improve the quality of life and help reduce deaths and disability among patients with heart disease and stroke," said Marc Malkoff, M.D., director of Neuro Critical Care at UNM Hospital. Among other duties, Malkoff oversees the UNM Interdisciplinary Stroke Response Team to triage patients in the ER for early interventional treatment of suspected stroke cases.

Studies have also demonstrated that patients receive improved provision of care over time at hospitals participating in Get With The Guidelines-Stroke program. In fact, one four-year study of 790 participating hospitals showed a 29-percent increase in the percentage of eligible patients who received clot-dissolving drugs within two hours of hospital arrival, a measure that can minimize the extent of damage to the brain and prevent permanent disability.

Annually, there are about 6.2 million cardiovascular and 730,000 stroke hospitalizations and 7.2 million cardiac and vascular procedures performed. Cardiovascular disease accounts for 831,000 deaths – more than 34 percent of all deaths – each year.