Patients First Health Care’s Heart and Vascular Centers in Washington and Creve Coeur have been granted a three-year term of accreditation in Vascular Testing in the areas of Extracranial Cerebrovascular Testing, Peripheral Arterial Testing and Visceral Vascular Testing by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC).

Accreditation by the IAC means that Patients First Heart and Vascular Centers have undergone a thorough review of operational and technical components by a panel of experts, including physicians and sonographers.

The IAC grants accreditation only to those facilities that are found to be providing quality patient care, in compliance with national standards through a comprehensive application process including detailed case study review.

“IAC accreditation is a seal of approval that patients can rely on as an indication that our facilities have been carefully critiqued on all aspects of our operations considered relevant by medical experts in the field of vascular testing,” said Dr. Robert H. Halsted, Patients First’s medical director.

“Our physicians are dedicated to delivering cardiovascular care above the national standard as defined by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) Heart Stroke Recognition Program and guidelines from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association,” he said. “We are in the process of certifying our physicians as part of that program. Our commitment to quality will reduce heart and stroke risk and lead to better health outcomes for our patients.”

Cardiovascular diseases are the No. 1 cause of death in the United States. On average, one American dies every 39 seconds of cardiovascular disease — disorders of the heart and blood vessels.

Stroke, a disorder of the blood supply to the brain, is the third leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability in the country, with nearly 800,000 new strokes occurring annually. According to the American Heart Association, the total direct and indirect cost of cardiovascular disease and stroke in the United States for 2010 was an estimated $503.2 billion.

Early detection of stroke and peripheral vascular disease is possible through the use of vascular testing procedures performed at Heart and Vascular Centers, outpatient centers and physicians’ offices, Patients First said. While these tests are helpful, there are many facets that contribute to an accurate diagnosis based on vascular testing.

The skill of the technologist performing the examination, the type of equipment used, the background and knowledge of the interpreting physician and quality assurance measures are each critical to quality patient testing, Patients First said.

That is why IAC accreditation is so widely requested within the medical community and highly supported by the national medical societies. Vascular testing accreditation is required in some states by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and by some private insurers. However, it is not required in Missouri and remains a voluntary process.