HEART Pathway Implementation Safely Reduces Hospitalizations at One Year in Patients With Acute Chest Pain

Ann Emerg Med. 2020 Nov;76(5):555-565. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2020.05.035. Epub 2020 Jul 28.


Study objective: We determine whether implementation of the HEART (History, ECG, Age, Risk Factors, Troponin) Pathway is safe and effective in emergency department (ED) patients with possible acute coronary syndrome through 1 year of follow-up.

Methods: A preplanned analysis of 1-year follow-up data from a prospective pre-post study of 8,474 adult ED patients with possible acute coronary syndrome from 3 US sites was conducted. Patients included were aged 21 years or older, evaluated for possible acute coronary syndrome, and without ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction. Accrual occurred for 12 months before and after HEART Pathway implementation, from November 2013 to January 2016. The HEART Pathway was integrated into the electronic health record at each site as an interactive clinical decision support tool. After integration, ED providers prospectively used the HEART Pathway to identify patients with possible acute coronary syndrome as low risk (appropriate for early discharge without stress testing or angiography) or nonlow risk (appropriate for further inhospital evaluation). Safety (all-cause death and myocardial infarction) and effectiveness (hospitalization) at 1 year were determined from health records, insurance claims, and death index data.

Results: Preimplementation and postimplementation cohorts included 3,713 and 4,761 patients, respectively. The HEART Pathway identified 30.7% of patients as low risk; 97.5% of them were free of death and myocardial infarction within 1 year. Hospitalization at 1 year was reduced by 7.0% in the postimplementation versus preimplementation cohort (62.1% versus 69.1%; adjusted odds ratio 0.70; 95% confidence interval 0.63 to 0.78). Rates of death or myocardial infarction at 1 year were similar (11.6% versus 12.4%; adjusted odds ratio 1.00; 95% confidence interval 0.87 to 1.16).

Conclusion: HEART Pathway implementation was associated with decreased hospitalizations and low adverse event rates among low-risk patients at 1-year follow-up.