The American Heart Association has honored UC Irvine Healthcare for providing the highest levels of care for people suffering from heart failure.

The association’s Get With The Guidelines – Heart Failure Gold Plus Award signifies that UC Irvine Medical Center has achieved at least 85 percent compliance for two consecutive years with AHA-specified standards of care for heart failure patients.

Get With The Guidelines is a quality improvement initiative aimed at reducing disability, future hospitalizations, healthcare costs and deaths. It includes care maps, discharge protocols, standing orders and measurement tools.

The medical center’s compliance rate for the standards of care was 98.9 percent. The “Plus” designation is for hospitals that achieve 75 percent or higher adherence to four of the nine AHA-specified quality measures; UC Irvine achieved 90 percent compliance.

“This award recognizes that heart failure patients who come to UC Irvine Medical Center are getting the proper care they need, when they need it,” said Dr. Dawn Lombardo, director of the hospital’s heart failure program. “UC Irvine continues to make our comprehensive care for heart failure patients among the best in the country.”

According to the AHA, about 5.7 million people in the U.S. suffer from heart failure, or the inability of the heart to supply sufficient blood flow to meet the body’s needs. The condition kills more than 292,200 individuals annually.

Under Get With The Guidelines, heart failure patients are started on aggressive risk reduction therapies – cholesterol-lowering drugs, beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, aspirin, diuretics and anticoagulants – in the hospital. They also receive counseling on alcohol/drug use and thyroid management before being discharged, along with referrals for cardiac rehabilitation.

A 2009 study published in the American Heart Journal concluded that hospitals adhering to these AHA guidelines had lower mortality rates.

In addition to participation in the Get With The Guidelines program, UC Irvine’s commitment to high-quality cardiac care is demonstrated in other ways:

  • In January 2010, the hospital opened its Cardiovascular Center, a one-stop shop designed to make the diagnosis and treatment of heart and blood vessel disease a kinder and gentler experience for patients and their families.
  • In March 2010, The Joint Commission renewed its Gold Seal of Approval for UC Irvine’s heart failure program. In 2008, this certification was the first by The Joint Commission at a Southern California hospital.
  • The medical center’s preventive cardiology program is Orange County’s only research-based heart disease prevention program.

About Get With The Guidelines: A hospital-based quality improvement program initiated by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, Get With The Guidelines empowers healthcare teams to save lives and reduce costs by following evidence-based guidelines and recommendations. For more information, visit

About UC Irvine Medical Center: Orange County’s only university hospital, UC Irvine Medical Center offers acute- and general-care services at its new, 482,000-square-foot UC Irvine Douglas Hospital and is home to the county’s only Level I trauma center, American College of Surgeons-verified regional burn center and National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center. U.S. News & World Report has included UC Irvine for 11 consecutive years on its list of America’s Best Hospitals, giving special recognition to its urology, gynecology, kidney disorders and cancer programs.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UCI is among the most dynamic campuses in the University of California system, with nearly 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,000 staff. Orange County’s largest employer, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $4.2 billion. For more UCI news, visit

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