PCNA Endorses New Guidelines from the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology Foundation

World Heart Federation and PCNA Back New AHA/ACCF Guidelines for Secondary Prevention and Risk Reduction Therapy

MADISON, Wis. – The Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association (PCNA) announces their support of new guidelines for secondary prevention and risk reduction therapy released today by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology Foundation. The new guidelines, published in Circulation, the official journal of the American Heart Association, have been endorsed by both the World Heart Federation and the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association. They address healthy habits and medication adherence for people with established coronary and other atherosclerotic vascular disease.

The new guidelines are an update of the 2006 guidelines on secondary prevention after important evidence from clinical trials supports intensive risk-reduction therapies for patients with established coronary and other atherosclerotic vascular disease, including peripheral artery disease, atherosclerotic aortic disease, and carotid artery disease. After reviewing this evidence, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology Foundation expanded the guidelines to "Secondary Prevention and Risk Reduction Therapy for Patients With Coronary and Other Atherosclerotic Vascular Disease: 2011 Update".

PCNA supports the changes to these guidelines that will help patients focus on prevention, improve their quality of life, and lower their chance of a repeat heart attack or stroke. This is an important evidence-based tool for nurses and nurse practitioners to use when counseling patients with known cardiovascular disease, including those who have had a heart attack, stroke, or who have undergone coronary artery bypass surgery or balloon angioplasty or stent placement.  

The guidelines recommend the following, among other recommendations:

  • Patients should be asked about tobacco use status at every office visit.
  • All patients should be counseled regarding the need for lifestyle modification: weight control; increased physical activity; alcohol moderation; sodium reduction; and emphasis on increased consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products.
  • Body mass index and/or waist circumference should be assessed at every visit.
  • A lipid profile in all patients should be established, and for hospitalized patients, lipid-lowering therapy should be initiated before discharge.
  • For all patients, the clinician should encourage 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days and preferably 7 days per week.
  • Patients with cardiovascular disease should have an annual influenza vaccination.
  • Aspirin 75–162 mg daily is recommended in all patients with coronary artery disease unless contraindicated.
  • For patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting, aspirin should be started within 6 hours after surgery to reduce saphenous vein graft closure.
  • For patients with recent coronary artery bypass graft surgery or myocardial infarction, it is reasonable to screen for depression.
  • All patients should be referred to a comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation program after a heart attack, stroke, bypass, surgery, or the diagnosis of a heart-related chest pain or blockages in leg arteries.

SOURCE: American Heart Association

Read the Full Guidelines

Release from the American Heart Association

To interview the PCNA board of directors who worked to endorse these guidelines, or for general media enquiries please contact: Abby Gutowski, Public Relations Manager at 608-250-2440 x4, agutowski@pcna.net


About PCNA: The Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association (PCNA) is the leading nursing organization dedicated to preventing cardiovascular disease (CVD) through assessing risk, facilitating lifestyle changes, and guiding individuals to achieve treatment goals. The mission of PCNA is to promote nurses as leaders in the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease. PCNA does this by educating and supporting nurses through the development of professional and patient education, leadership, and advocacy. For more information call 1-608-250-2440 or visit www.pcna.net.