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May 7, 2020

AHA Issues Call to Action to Prevent VTE in Hospitalized Patients

May 7, 2020—The American Heart Association (AHA) announced a “call to action” to prevent venous thromboembolism (VTE) in hospitalized patients. The new AHA policy statement provides a focused review of VTE, risk scoring systems, preventive measures for the hospital environment, and tracking methods. The document by Peter K. Henke, MD, was published online in Circulation.

“This policy statement serves as a call to action to reduce incidents of VTE, a preventable disease and a major cause of death in hospitalized patients,” stated Dr. Henke in the announcement. “Standardized risk assessment and national tracking in hospitals are essential steps to prevent VTE in patients nationwide. The AHA welcomes the opportunity to work with hospitals to ensure progress is made in reducing VTE, raising public awareness, and providing support to patients and families.”

AHA identified the following five major areas of policy guidance that will lead to better implementation, tracking, and prevention of VTE events:

  • Performing VTE risk assessment and reporting the level of VTE risk in all hospitalized patients
  • Integrating “preventable VTE” as a benchmark for hospital comparison and pay-for-performance programs
  • Supporting appropriations to improve public awareness of VTE
  • National tracking of VTE using standardized definitions
  • Developing a centralized data registry for tracking VTE risk assessment, prevention, and rates

The AHA policy statement concludes that increased VTE awareness and prioritization of proven, evidence-based primary prevention strategies accompanied by uniform tracking of hospital-acquired VTE should be a national health priority.

As noted in the AHA press release, acute VTE is a leading contributor to increased length of stay and the leading cause of preventable hospital death in the United States and worldwide. The projected annual cost of preventable hospital-acquired VTE is $7 billion to $10 billion per year. Most estimates place the annual incidence of diagnosed VTE in adults in the United States at 1 to 2 per 1,000 per year, increasing with age, obesity, and in blacks. Preventive measures for reducing VTE in high-risk hospitalized medical and surgical patients are safe, clinically effective, and cost-effective, but they are underutilized, stated the AHA.

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