Updated ACC/AHA Heart Failure Measures Add Newer Meds

Richard Mark Kirkner

November 03, 2020

Safety measures for lab monitoring of mineralocorticoid receptor agonist therapy, performance measures for sacubitril/valsartan, cardiac resynchronization therapy and titration of medications, and quality measures based on patient-reported outcomes are among the updates the joint task force of the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association have made to performance and quality measures for managing adults with heart failure.

The revisions, published online Nov. 2 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, update the 2011 ACC/AHA heart failure measure set, writing committee vice chair Gregg C. Fonarow, MD, said in an interview. The 2011 measure set predates the 2015 approval of the angiotensin receptor neprilysin inhibitor (ARNI) sacubitril/valsartan for heart failure in adults.

Measures Stress Dosages, Strength of Evidence

"For the first time the heart failure performance measure sets also focus on not just the use of guideline-recommended medication at any dose, but on utilizing the doses that are evidence-based and guideline recommended so long as they are well tolerated," said Fonarow, interim chief of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles. "The measure set now includes assessment of patients being treated with doses of medications at 50% or greater of target dose in the absence of contraindications or documented intolerance."

The update includes seven new performance measures, two quality measures, and one structural measure. The performance measures come from the strongest recommendations – that is, a class of recommendation of 1 (strong) or 3 (no benefit or harmful, process to be avoided) – in the 2017 ACC/AHA/Heart Failure Society of American heart failure guideline update published in Circulation.

In addition to the 2017 update, the writing committee also reviewed existing performance measures. "Those management strategies, diagnostic testing, medications, and devices with the strongest evidence and highest level of guideline recommendations were further considered for inclusion in the performance measure set," Fonarow said. "The measures went through extensive review by peer reviewers and approval from the organizations represented."

Specifically, the update includes measures for monitoring serum potassium after starting mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists therapy, and cardiac resynchronization therapy for patients with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction already on guideline-directed therapy. "This therapy can significantly improve functional capacity and outcomes in appropriately selected patients," Fonarow said.

New and Retired Measures

The update adds two performance measures for titration of medications based on dose, either reaching 50% of the recommended dose for a variety of medications, including ARNI, or documenting that the dose wasn't tolerated for other reason for not using the dose.

The new structural measure calls for facility participation in a heart failure registry. The revised measure set now consists of 18 measures in all.

The update retired one measure from the 2011 set: left ventricular ejection fraction assessment for inpatients. The committee cited its use above 97% as the reason, but LVEF in outpatients remains a measure.

The following tree measures have been revised:

  • Patient self-care education has moved from performance measure to quality measure because of concerns about the accuracy of self-care education documentation and limited evidence of improved outcomes with better documentation.

  • ACE inhibitor or angiotensin receptor blocker therapy for left ventricular systolic dysfunction adds ARNI therapy to align with the 2017 ACC/AHA/HFSA update.

  • Postdischarge appointments shifts from performance to quality measure and include a 7-day limit.

Measures future research should focus on, noted Fonarow, include the use of sodium glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors for heart failure, including in patients without diabetes. "Since the ACC/AHA heart failure guidelines had not yet been updated to recommend these therapies they could not be included in this performance measure set," he said.

He also said "an urgent need" exists for further research into treatments for heart failure with preserved ejection fraction along with optimal implementation strategies.

"If these ACC/AHA heart failure performance measures were applied in all settings in which patients with heart failure in the United States are being cared for, and optimal and equitable conformity with each of these measures were achieved, over 100,000 lives a year of patients with heart failure could be saved," he said. "There's in an urgent need to measure and improve heart failure care quality."

Fonarow reported financial relationships with Abbott, Amgen, AstraZeneca, CHF Solutions, Janssen, Medtronic, Merck, and Novartis.

SOURCE: American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Performance Measures. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2020 Nov 2;76:2527-64.

This article originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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