Minutes matter: Policies to improve care for


DALLAS, October 13, 2021 — The time it takes from the moment a heart attack starts to the delivery of definitive treatment is a determining factor in a patient’s ability to survive. The American Heart Association, the leading voluntary health organization devoted to a world of longer, healthier lives for all, today issued public policy guidance to address systems changes for patients with the most severe type of heart attack.

The policy statement, “Systems of Care for ST-Segment-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI),” published today in the Association’s flagship journal Circulation, sets forth recommendations for how the ideal cardiac system of care should be designed and implemented to ensure that patients with STEMI receive the best evidence-based care at each stage in their illness.

Improvements in cardiac systems of care are necessary to ensure scientific advances in the treatment and care of patients to improve patient outcomes. The policy statement comes as STEMI systems of care have seen significant improvement resulting from the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline program, a national initiative to advance systems of care for patients with STEMI and other acute disease states. Since Mission: Lifeline was established in 2007, it has significantly increased timely access to percutaneous coronary intervention for patients with STEMI, resulting in declining morbidity and mortality rates and increased research that has improved understanding of effective STEMI systems of care.

However, significant barriers and opportunities remain that require changes and improvements in public policy.

“We can save more lives from the most serious heart attacks, and we know the policy changes that will allow us to do so,” said Alice Jacobs, M.D., FAHA, the statement’s lead author and vice chair for clinical affairs in the Department of Medicine at Boston University Medical Center. “From ensuring…