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Highmark Foundation Awards $120,000 to the American Heart Association
Date:2/10/2010

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Heart disease is the leading cause of death among Pennsylvanians, with 17,191 heart attack cases documented last year in Western Pennsylvania alone. The urgency to improve the timeliness and quality of care for cardiac patients is critical.

The Highmark Foundation recently awarded a $120,000 grant to the American Heart Association as one of the first funders of Mission Lifeline, an initiative to advance the systems of care for patients who have experienced the most severe form of heart attack –ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction or STEMI.  

The American College of Cardiology recommends that patients receive an angioplasty within 90 minutes of entering the hospital. There are still some facilities in Western Pennsylvania that do not meet this recommendation.

"Quality of care will not improve without a major emphasis on process improvement and systems change," said Donald Fischer, M.D., Highmark senior vice president and chief medical officer. "Our community has much to gain if we can facilitate the adoption of best practices for STEMI management."

The Highmark Foundation grant dollars will support two components of Mission Lifeline's initiatives as part of the greater effort to improve the care procedures for STEMI patients.

Funds will provide education and training for hospital quality improvement staff in hospitals located throughout 27 counties in Western Pennsylvania. This training will help establish the national standards for understanding and improving the quality, safety and outcomes of cardiac patients.  Emergency medical service technicians and first responders will also be trained to use equipment that can specifically diagnose a STEMI heart attack.

"The benefits of the project are extraordinary," said Sherri Stitt, vice president of Pittsburgh Metro of the American Heart Association's Great Rivers Affiliate. "Mission Lifeline will not only change the process in which our partners measure their system of care, but when this system is fully implemented it will save hundreds of lives annually. We applaud the Highmark Foundation for its dedication and foresight. This collaboration will build a stronger chain of survival for the care and safety of our community."

For more information about the Highmark Foundation and for the complete news release, visit www.highmark.com. To learn more about the American Heart Association, visit www.americanheart.org.

SOURCE Highmark Inc.

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