Kaiser Permanente’s Commitment to Cardiac Care

Feature Story
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February has arrived, and while many people use it as a time to celebrate love, Kaiser Permanente is using it as a time to renew its commitment to promoting heart health and raising awareness about heart disease, the leading cause of death and disability for Americans.

According to the American Heart Association, every year 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease. Most heart problems can be prevented through healthy lifestyle choices, such as exercising, healthy diet, keeping a healthy weight, smoking cessation and limiting alcohol. The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of exercise or walking most days of the week.

“Awareness is a key factor in making healthy lifestyle choices,” said Somjot Brar, MD, cardiologist, Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center. “Studies continue to show that physical activity and reducing sodium, saturated fat and added sugars are the best ways to maintain a healthy heart.”

Saving lives through prevention

To help members make better lifestyle choices, Kaiser Permanente provides health education courses, preventive screening reminders and easily accessible, highly coordinated care options for quicker, better diagnosis. Cardiac care is informed by Kaiser Permanente research, which helps ensure patients benefit from the latest preventive treatment options. Kaiser Permanente’s integrated care model and electronic health records system helps to identify members at risk for diabetes, hypertension and other illnesses that could lead to cardiovascular problems.

“It’s important for us to work in partnership with our patients and their families to ensure they have the tools and support they need so they can live a long and healthy life,” said Patrick Courneya, MD, executive vice president and chief medical officer for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals. “Preventive power comes with healthy lifestyle choices, which is engrained in our culture here at Kaiser Permanente.”

Treatment strategies for cardiovascular problems

Kaiser Permanente’s love for heart health doesn’t end with education and prevention. The organization has been recognized nationally for its world-class cardiovascular health care. U.S. News & World Report for 2015-16 ranked four Kaiser Permanente hospitals — Los Angeles, Downey, Sacramento and San Francisco medical centers — among the nation’s top 50 (99th percentile) for cardiology and heart surgery. In addition, Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center and Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center were named in Becker’s Hospital Review 2015-2016 list of “100 hospitals and health systems with great heart programs” and Healthgrades’ top 100 hospitals for cardiac care in 2015.

Dr. Brar points to Kaiser Permanente’s use of cutting edge technology, trailblazing research and multidisciplinary approach as the basis for national recognition. “We are continuously pioneering new groundbreaking ways to prevent, detect and treat illnesses of the heart.”

Groundbreaking treatment includes the use of minimally invasive approaches to replace diseased aortic valves and other alternatives to major surgery for repairing thoracic aortic aneurysms that result in reduced recovery times and improved survival rates.

Monitoring patients for best outcomes

Kaiser Permanente also routinely monitors more than 100,000 members who have pacemakers or implantable cardiac defibrillators through the Kaiser Permanente Cardiac Device Registry.

“By leveraging Kaiser Permanente’s integrated health care system’s administrative databases and electronic health records system, the registry has allowed me and other physicians to compare best practices amongst colleagues and choose devices with the best clinical outcomes to minimize complications associated with them,” said Nigel Gupta, MD, director, Regional Cardiac Electrophysiology Services. “Monitoring of medical device performance is critical to ensure patient safety and quality of care for our members.”

From providing education and care to preventing heart disease to treating patients with advanced heart failure, Kaiser Permanente continues to lead the way in heart health. For more information, visit kp.org.