The medical profession should play a central role in evaluating the evidence related to drugs, devices, and procedures for the detection, management, and prevention of disease. When properly applied, expert analysis of available data on the benefits and risks of these therapies and procedures can improve the quality of care, optimize patient outcomes, and favorably affect costs by focusing resources on the most effective strategies. An organized and directed approach to a thorough review of evidence has resulted in the production of clinical practice guidelines that assist clinicians in selecting the best management strategy for an individual patient.
Moreover, clinical practice guidelines can provide a foundation for other applications, such as performance measures, appropriate use criteria, and both quality improvement and clinical decision support tools.
The American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) have jointly engaged in the production of guidelines in the area of cardiovascular disease since 1980. The ACC/AHA Task Force on Practice Guidelines (Task Force), whose charge is to develop, update, or revise practice guidelines for cardiovascular diseases and procedures, directs this effort. Writing committees are charged with the task of performing an assessment of the evidence and acting as an independent group of authors to develop, update or revise written recommendations for clinical practice.