The practice of cardiology is largely guideline driven in modern medicine. While guidelines are important to summarize clinical research and give diagnostic and therapeutic recommendations, they are frequently quite long and difficult to read. LearnTheHeart.com’s Cardiology Review section includes pertinent guideline recommendations within the review of each topic when available.
For your reference, LearnTheHeart.com has organized the major societies most of whom provide guidelines on cardiovascular topics:
American College of Cardiology (ACC)
American Heart Association (AHA)
The ACC/AHA guidelines are considered the gold standard recommendations for the treatment of essentially every cardiovascular disorder. A thorough review of pathophysiology, clinical research and treatment recommendations is provided.
Heart Failure Society of America - Guidelines
The Heart Failure Society of America provides comprehensive heart failure guidelines and practice recommendations for systolic and diastolic heart failure.
European Society of Cardiology - Guidelines
The European Society of Cardiology provides full guidelines for a vast majority of cardiovascular diseases similar to the ACC/AHA guidelines.
American Society of Echocardiography (ASE) - Guidelines
The ASE provides guidelines for the use of transthoracic echocardiography as well as excellent detailed reviews of diagnostic criteria for all cardiovascular disorders that can be evaluated using echocardiography including valvular heart disease, chamber quantification and diastolic assessment.
Society of Cardiovascular Computed Tomography (SCCT) - Guidelines
A review of cardiac CT including appropriateness criteria for its use is available through the SCCT website.
American Society of Nuclear Cardiology
The American Society of Nuclear Cardiology provides guidelines for the use of myocardial perfusion imaging, PET viability and MUGA scans as well as links to other pertinent guidelines.
American Thoracic Society - Guidelines
The American Thoracic Society provides surgical guidelines as well as guidelines for disorders related to cardiac and thoracic surgery.
Heart Rhythm Society
The Heart Rhythm Society authors and endorses guidelines to provide analysis, discussion and suggestions for clinical practice in the field of heart rhythm.
How to use guidelines
Guidelines are exactly what they sound like...just guidelines. These are not rules or laws that must be followed, however are certainly helpful to summarize the normal, evidence based course of action that should be taken for essentially every clinical situation and disease state that exists in cardiology and vascular diseases.
The different guidelines are incorporated into almost every physicians practice and used a a reference. Individualized situations may occur where a patient's personal preference or unusal situation may force a physician to make a recommendation against normal guidelines. This is indeed considered appropriate and standard of care in most instances. Educating the patient that the course of action taken is not consistent with guidelines is important.
How guidelines are written
Each society that publishes guidelines in their respected field of interest has a different method for creating the document, however a majority of guidelines are written by a panel of experts after hours of discussion and review of the clinical data and research trials available. This panel includes predominately physicians, however PhDs, RNs and other scientific experts are frequently included. The writing committee does obtain outside consultation from other physicians considered to be experts in that field. Multiple edits and revisions are made prior to publication.
- by Steven Lome