More than 5 million people have received heart and stroke care based on the latest research-based treatment guidelines, thanks to an American Heart Association/American Stroke Association program that helps hospitals follow those guidelines.

The association’s Get With The Guidelines program hit the 5 million-patient milestone this month and also the mark of more than 3 million people treated after strokes.

“The incredible number of patients that have been treated in these programs offer us a wealth of information that contributes to research, which ultimately helps to improve their care,” said Deepak L. Bhatt, M.D., M.P.H., the national chairman of the Get With The Guidelines steering committee and executive director of Interventional Cardiovascular Programs at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

“Using this information, research studies have confirmed that there are benefits to patients who are treated at hospitals that have adopted the Get With The Guidelines program, and this accomplishment demonstrates the power of translating evidence-based care into user-friendly tools for healthcare providers,” he said.

The American Heart Association launched Get With The Guidelines in 2000. Studies show that consistent application of these programs can lead to better recoveries and lower risks of ending up back in the hospital. More than 2,200 hospitals participate in Get With The Guidelines, with at least one in every state and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

The association created Get With The Guidelines-Stroke in 2003. Participating hospitals can also use Target: Stroke, an initiative designed to reduce the time between hospital arrival and treatment with the only FDA-approved treatment for ischemic stroke: the clot-busting drug IV tPA. More than 100,000 stroke patients have received tPA since the program began, resulting in fewer deaths and disability.

The association also has Get With The Guidelines modules for atrial fibrillation, heart failure, resuscitation and Action Registry®-GWTG. Each module functions as a registry, tracking and measuring patient treatments and outcomes. These registries also provide a way to evaluate, recognize and provide patients with information about hospitals awarded for their performance. Hospitals can achieve different levels of achievement by consistently following the guidelines.

“Research studies are driving results in evidence-based medicine, and published findings from more than 280 studies based on Get With The Guidelines are making major contributions to the future of heart disease and stroke care,” Bhatt said.

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