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November 15, 2019

AHA and the Mitral Foundation Launch a Joint Recognition Program for Mitral Valve Surgery

November 16, 2019—The Mitral Foundation and the American Heart Association (AHA) announced a new collaborative initiative during the AHA scientific sessions 2019, held November 16–18 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They have launched a joint recognition program to identify, recognize, and promote the nation’s recognized medical centers for mitral valve repair surgery.

This collaboration aims to increase the number of patients who receive mitral valve reconstruction rather than replacement, where appropriate. Additionally, the joint recognition program for facilities includes the Mitral Valve Repair Reference Center Award. This award will provide information for patients and their families to make informed decisions and achieve better outcomes.

Applications for recognition for the Mitral Valve Repair Reference Center Award will be accepted in early 2020.

This recognition award program will:

  • Recognize those Mitral Valve Repair Reference Centers who have received this award that have demonstrated a record of superior clinical outcomes, as well as an ongoing commitment to reporting and measuring quality and outcome metrics specific to mitral valve repairs
  • Promote the availability of recognized centers that have received this award to help improve access to quality care for patients across the United States

As noted in the announcement, although clinical guidelines recommend mitral valve repair over replacement, too many patients who would benefit from repair receive replacement valves, with higher rates of death or complications within 5 years after surgery.

In March 2017, the AHA and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) task force on clinical practice guidelines published the 2017 AHA/ACC focused update of the 2014 AHA/ACC guideline for the management of patients with valvular heart disease. The document by Rick A. Nishimura, MD, et al is available online in Circulation and in Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

According to the Mitral Foundation and the AHA, the recommended treatment for degenerative mitral valve disease is mitral valve reconstruction, as opposed to valve replacement with a bioprosthetic or mechanical valve, because valve repair is associated with improved survival and fewer long-term complications.

David H. Adams, MD, who is president of the Mitral Foundation, commented in the announcement, “Mitral valve repair is among the more challenging operations to perform well, and it is not as common as many other cardiac procedures. Patients deserve to know whether the surgical team that is going to operate on them is truly and objectively excellent. This initiative will enable patients to make informed choices about the team they are trusting to perform their procedure.” Dr. Adams is the Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Professor and Chair of the Department of Cardiovascular Surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Cardiac Surgeon-in-Chief of the Mount Sinai Health System in New York, New York.

Ivor Benjamin, MD, the immediate past president of the AHA Board of Directors and a volunteer scientific expert for the AHA, added, “Choosing the right hospital for heart surgery is one of the most important health care decisions a person can make in their lifetime. Our collaboration with the Mitral Foundation will give patients needing mitral valve surgery the data they need to identify and access the health care that best meets their needs.”

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