Background: The revised 2014 American College of Cardiology (ACC)/American Heart Association valvular heart disease guidelines provide evidenced-based recommendations for the management of mitral regurgitation (MR). However, knowledge gaps related to our evolving understanding of critical MR concepts may impede their implementation.
Methods: The ACC conducted a multifaceted needs assessment to characterize gaps, practice patterns, and perceptions related to the diagnosis and treatment of MR. A key project element was a set of surveys distributed to primary care and cardiovascular physicians (cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons). Survey and other gap analysis findings were presented to a panel of 10 expert advisors from specialties of general cardiology, cardiac imaging, interventional cardiology, and cardiac surgeons with expertise in valvular heart disease, especially MR, and cardiovascular education. The panel was charged with assessing the relative importance and potential means of remedying identified gaps to improve care for patients with MR.
Results: The survey results identified several knowledge and practice gaps that may limit implementation of evidence-based recommendations for MR care. Specifically, half of primary care physicians reported uncertainty regarding timing of intervention for patients with severe primary or functional MR. Physicians in all groups reported that quantitative indices of MR severity were frequently not reported in clinical echocardiographic interpretations, and that these measurements were not consistently reviewed when provided in reports. In the treatment of MR, nearly 30% of primary care physician and general cardiologists did not know the volume of mitral valve repair surgeries by their reference cardiac surgeons and did not have a standard source to obtain this information. After review of the survey results, the expert panel summarized practice gaps into 4 thematic areas and offered proposals to address deficiencies and promote better alignment with the 2014 ACC/American Heart Association valvular disease guidelines.
Conclusion: Important knowledge and skill gaps exist that may impede optimal care of the patient with MR. Focused educational and practice interventions should be developed to reduce these gaps.
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