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January 15, 2010

American Heart Association Names VA Researcher Paul Heidenreich's Work in Top 10 of 2009

A publication by the VA HSR&D researcher Paul Heidenreich has been selected by the American Heart Association (AHA) as one of the 10 most important cardiovascular medicine research papers of 2009. The AHA's "Top Ten" list is based on nominations from the organization's 16 scientific councils, which recommend the year's "most meritorious, most substantial, most significant" papers in cardiovascular medicine.

Dr. Heidenreich is the director of both the VA/HSR&D Chronic Heart Failure Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (CHF-QUERI), and the Echocardiography Laboratory at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System. He was the lead author of the paper, "Hospital performance recognition with the Get With The Guidelines Program and mortality for acute myocardial infarction and heart failure," which was published in the October 2009 issue of the American Heart Journal.

The study examined patient survival rates for heart attack and heart failure among hospitals participating in the AHA's "Get with the Guidelines" (GWTG) quality and performance improvement award program. Researchers compared 30-day survival rate data for heart attack and heart failure for all hospitals, as reported by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), to the 30-day survival rates for those conditions as reported by hospitals participating in the AHA's GWTG program. Of the 3,909 hospitals represented in the CMS data, 355 received GWTG performance awards for achieving high levels of recommended process of care. Results showed that hospitals receiving achievement awards from the GWTG program had lower risk-adjusted mortality for acute MI and heart failure.

In addition to his work with the QUERI program, Dr. Heidenreich's areas of research include: interventions to improve the quality of care for heart disease patients, use of echocardiography to predict prognosis, and cost-effectiveness of new cardiovascular technologies. He is currently examining the cost-effectiveness of different treatments for hypertension and different screening strategies to prevent heart failure, as well as hospital and physician predictors of quality of heart failure and heart attack care in the VA and Medicare systems.

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