The American Heart Association (AHA) and The Joint Commission have come together to develop new hospital certifications that will establish “comprehensive standards and evaluation methods for cardiac and stroke hospital programs” using evidence-based, best practice guidelines. The announcement was made in a press release issued by the AHA.1

Beginning July 1, 2019, the Primary Heart Attack Center (PHAC) and Acute Heart Attack Ready (AHAR) certifications will be available at all hospitals. Based on clinical practice guidelines previously published in Circulation,2 the certifications will result in standardized, improved coordinated care systems across the United States.

Per the press release, these certifications “add to a growing portfolio of performance improvement programs offered” by both organizations. These certifications will replace the current AHA Mission: Lifeline Heart Attack Accreditations for STEMI Receiving and Referring Centers.

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Both certifications focus on “symptom onset and first medical contact…emergency medical services, the emergency department, [and] catheterization laboratories and inpatient settings.”

Eligible PHAC hospitals must provide onsite primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) for STEMI patients oh a 24/7 basis; the AHAR certification is geared towards hospitals that do not have these facilities.

“[W]e are pleased to offer these new certification programs to hospitals across the country treating heart attack patients,” said David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, executive vice president of the Division of Health Care Quality Evaluation at The Joint Commission.

“These certifications will recognize hospitals that are following the latest evidence-based guidelines for heart attack care and continuously working to improve their care.”

The prepublication edition of the certification standards are available for public view until June 30, 2019.


  1. New certifications will improve on chain of survival for heart attack patients [news release]. Dallas, TX: American Heart Association. Published March 6, 2019. Accessed March 6, 2019.
  2. Jollis JG, Al-Khalidi AR, Roettig ML, et al. Impact of regionalization of ST-Segment-Elevation Myocardial Infarction care on treatment times and outcomes for emergency medical services-transported patients presenting to hospitals with percutaneous coronary intervention. 2018;137(4):376-387.

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This article originally appeared on The Cardiology Advisor