CHICAGO – Recognizing heart failure as one of the most widespread and pernicious public health issues in the United States, Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital physicians and staff focused significant attention and resources on treating people in all stages of the disease, an effort that has the hospital ranked in the top 50 in the United States for heart failure survival.
“At Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, we are acutely aware that heart failure is a disease that requires ongoing close communication between specialized heart failure teams and primary care physicians,” said Ian Cohen, MD, medical director of cardiology at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital. “We at Northwestern’s Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute have instituted heart failure protocols that are fully integrated throughout Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital and our outpatient offices in Lake Forest, Grayslake and Glenview. We are working together to provide all our patients, including those in all stages of heart failure, the best possible care in locations convenient to their homes.”
Lake Forest Hospital’s sustained focus on diagnosis, treatment and follow-up pushed it to have one of the lowest inpatient mortality rates for heart failure in the country, according to data tracked by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services from July 2012 through June 2015, the most recent data available. Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, which is also part of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, ranked number one for heart failure survival rate in the same period of time.
The national heart failure mortality average for hospitals during that time was 12.2 percent. Lake Forest Hospital had an 8.8 percent heart failure mortality rate, far below the national average. Northwestern Memorial Hospital had a 6.6 percent mortality rate, putting odds of survival at nearly twice the national average.
“Coordinating cardiovascular care at Northwestern Memorial and Lake Forest Hospital means patients at both hospitals have access to the most leading-edge therapies, diagnostics and treatments,” said Charles Davidson, MD, clinical chief of cardiology. Dr. Davidson sees primarily patients with valvular heart disease at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Lake Forest Hospital and is leading the collaboration that has academic clinicians practicing medicine at both Northwestern Medicine locations.
“This integration is designed to provide better outcomes for our patients and fewer hospital readmissions,” said Dr. Davidson, who is a professor of medicine-cardiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Allen Anderson, MD, medical director for the Center for Heart Failure at Northwestern Medicine’s Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, also sees patients at both Lake Forest and Northwestern Memorial.
“At the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, we decided years ago that heart failure is a disease of such prevalence and such importance that those patients deserve specialty care,” said Dr. Anderson. “We are treating all heart failure, not just a certain high risk group. Treating these patients aggressively earlier in their disease process can delay or prevent the need for more complicated therapies like heart transplants and mechanical pumps in the future.”
Heart failure is a chronic, irreversible condition that appears when the heart can no longer pump blood properly through the body. It can worsen over time, requires regular medical management and, in the most serious cases, mechanical heart pumps known as ventricular assist devices (VADs) or heart transplants. People with a history of heart attack, high blood pressure, heart muscle diseases, coronary artery disease, diabetes, heart valve disease, heart rhythm disorders, lung disease and congenital heart defects are most at risk.
At Lake Forest Hospital and Northwestern Memorial, cardiologists have mobilized a multidisciplinary Bridge and Transition Team (BAT), comprised of physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, dieticians, pharmacists and social workers to provide state of the art care to existing patients as well as to identify patients in the hospital with suspected heart failure.
“We have a team of doctors and nurses who not only use specialized technology but also go out and lay eyes on the patients, assess their needs and make sure they are getting the proper therapy in the hospital and the proper follow-up care at discharge,” said Dr. Anderson, who is also a professor of cardiology at the Feinberg School of Medicine. “It’s a disease-specific, patient-level approach that not only has improved the mortality rate but made an impact across the disease spectrum.”
“Our incredible heart failure team and their tireless collective efforts have prioritized the treatment of heart failure at Northwestern Medicine, from the newly diagnosed to those with the most serious iterations of this condition,” said Clyde Yancy, MD, MSc, chief of cardiology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the Magerstadt Professor of Medicine at Feinberg. “While this is one marker of our effective management of heart failure, we continue to work on new discoveries in heart failure that will further improve the management of our patients with this disease.”
Both Northwestern Memorial and Lake Forest Hospital are part of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, a program launched in 2005 by cardiothoracic surgeon Patrick McCarthy, MD, designed to bring world-class heart care to the Chicago area. Since then, Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s heart and heart surgery program have been consistently ranked the top heart care program in Chicago, Illinois and the surrounding states. For the past two years, US News & World Report ranked the program in the top 10 nationally, with cardiology and cardiac surgery now ranked 6th in the country.
To learn more about cardiovascular care at Lake Forest Hospital, visit heart.nm.org or call (847) LF-HEART.
Submitted by Northwestern Medicine