Choosing a Heart & Vascular Center
When it comes to treating cardiovascular disease, experience counts. Be sure to ask healthcare providers how much care they provide in the specialty you need, as well as their track record in fighting heart disease. Studies show hospitals that treat a high number of cardiac patients and perform large numbers of procedures and surgeries have better results. In fact, professional organizations like the American Heart Association and American College of Surgeons offer these general guidelines about volume recommendations:
- A task force of the American Heart Association, American College of Physicians and the American College of Cardiology recommends a hospital perform a minimum of 200 balloon angioplasties per year.
- The Report of the Inter-Society Commission for Heart Disease Resources suggests a catheterization lab perform at least 300 procedures each year.
- The American College of Surgeons guideline for coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) is 150 open-heart operations annually.
Capabilities, Resources & Care
A good cardiac health center will offer comprehensive services, a wide variety of treatment options, the most advanced diagnostic technologies, and specialized facilities for outpatient and inpatient care. In the nation's best centers, you'll find these state-of-the-art resources supported by highly qualified, multidisciplinary teams that coordinate and customize care to meet each patient's unique needs.
Performance & Patient Outcomes
Nothing about a cardiac care center speaks louder than performance and patient outcomes (PDF). Statistics can't offer guarantees, but they are a good indication of how a center ranks among its competitors. It is always a good idea to ask for and review data on performance and outcomes before choosing a center. A qualified center will have independent performance reviews, evaluations, and reports readily available. They should also be eager to discuss the numbers with you.
When choosing a cardiac care center, be sure to consider how convenient it is for you, your caregivers and loved ones to visit. Proximity to major highways and cities, distance to affiliate hospitals and organizations, convenience of parking, and area accommodations can be important factors when making your decision.