An ongoing commitment to heart health has landed Kaiser Permanente's Sunnyside Medical Center among the top medical centers in the country for heart surgery.

That is the finding from a national consumer magazine, which recently named Sunnyside Medical Center as one of just 15 hospitals in the nation to earn top scores in both heart valve and bypass surgery.

These first-ever ratings by the magazine are based on patients' medical record data from 400 hospitals nationwide, showing whether they survived the procedure and how they fared on other measures, including complications. The information comes from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, a national group that represents physicians who operate on the heart and other organs in the chest.

Sunnyside has been on STS's all-star list since 2010, shortly after the hospital opened its Northwest Center for Heart and Vascular Care. Last month, Sunnyside — for the seventh consecutive time — was given a three-star rating by STS, the highest rating possible.

"We are very proud that Kaiser Permanente Sunnyside has received this distinguished recognition and many others," said Yong Shin, MD, chief of cardiovascular surgery at the Kaiser Permanente Northwest Center for Heart and Vascular Care. "This honor reflects the hard work and dedication of our physicians, nurses, clinicians and care teams who excel in cardiac care not only here in the Northwest, but across our organization."

Heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States, is particularly important for Kaiser Permanente. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention point to heart disease and stroke as the cause of one of every three deaths, equal to 2,200 deaths per day. Hypertension control and cholesterol management have been national priorities for Kaiser Permanente for more than a decade and the efforts have paid off with life-saving studies and best-in-the-nation results.

In the past two years, both Kaiser Permanente Northern California (2013) and Kaiser Permanente Colorado (2012) were recognized as a Hypertension Control Champion by Million Hearts™, a national public-private initiative of the Department of Health and Human Services. The designation signifies a health plan as having had remarkable success controlling hypertension across its entire patient population.

Kaiser Permanente Northern California's recognition by HHS followed a research study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that showed the region had nearly doubled the rate of blood-pressure control among adult members with diagnosed hypertension between 2001 and 2009 through one of the largest, community-based hypertension programs in the nation.

Kaiser Permanente Colorado was honored when its hypertension management efforts resulted in an improvement from an initial member control rate of 61 percent in 2008 to 82.6 percent in 2012. Nationally, hypertension control rates hover around 50 percent.

The Department of Health and Human Services, seeking a national leader in the field of cardiac care, asked Kaiser Permanente in 2011 to become a partner and to share examples of the many programs and activities that the organization has across its seven regions that align with their aims. Kaiser Permanente in 2003 developed the ALL/PHASE protocol, which utilizes low-cost and generic medications (such as aspirin, Lisinopril, and lipid-lowering medication) and clinical interventions to reduce heart attacks in our regions. The patients Kaiser Permanente initially included in its ALL/PHASE program were those with heart disease, as well as patients over the age of 55 who had diabetes. These patients had 60 percent fewer heart attacks and strokes.

Meanwhile, Kaiser Permanente continues to be a leader in combating heart disease. According to the 2013 HEDIS (Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set), Kaiser Permanente Hawaii was the number one health plan in the country for cholesterol management for commercial plan patients with cardiovascular conditions. For more information on cardiovascular care, please see Kaiser Permanente's Heart Health website.

"It is due to the collaborative efforts of high-performing doctors, nurses and staff that over the last several years Kaiser Permanente has become widely recognized as a national leader in health care quality and prevention, especially for cardiac care," said Patrick Courneya, MD, executive vice president and chief medical officer for Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan. "Our patients and members are benefiting from the cutting-edge technology and evidence-based practices that improve the care we deliver."

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