Coding of Cardiac Conditions Takes Center Stage for American Heart Month

MedLearn Media is proud to be at the forefront of offering world-class guidance on a vitally important topic. 

February may be American Heart Month, but correctly diagnosing and coding cardiac conditions is something healthcare professionals need to work hard to get right 365 days a year.

It’s a tenet being repeatedly reinforced by a myriad of articles and broadcast segments appearing this month on RACmonitor ICD10monitor and their two respective featured live weekly Internet broadcasts, Monitor Mondays and Talk Ten Tuesdays.

“At MedLearn Media, we have between all three of our brands, RACmonitor, ICD10monitor, and MedLearn Publishing, provided news, guidance, insight, and education into appropriate charge capture for an array for cardiology and cardiovascular procedures that are performed to diagnose and treat various states of heart disease, let it be heart arrhythmias, heart failures, heart valve disease, and more,” MedLearn Media Chief Operating Officer (COO) Angela Kornegor said. “Our products and services in this vein ‘connect the dots’ – in other words, they bridge the gap between clinical and coding arenas to ensure that patient services get selected correctly from the information system onto their records, and then flows to the coding, billing, and revenue cycle side cleanly to get payment back that is 100-percent accurate. We want to recognize this area of medicine and the subject matter experts in our industry that have supported it from a coding and documentation side.”

Nowhere was this commitment more evident than in this week’s article by Patty Chua (RHIT, CCS, CCD, AHIMA- Approved ICD-10 Trainer), who outlined coding guidance for pulmonary hypertension – a rare condition that nonetheless can be particularly deadly, often because it is not diagnosed until it is in advanced stages.

“It can be triggered by a variety of factors, including sleep apnea and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the true prevalence is still unknown, but it’s estimated that between 50-100 people per million have the condition – so getting the right diagnosis and treatment is crucial for those who have it, because pulmonary hypertension worsens over time, and there is currently no cure,” Chua wrote. She went on to break down the five primary groupings of the condition, along with the correct code to apply for each.

It’s no wonder why such attention is being devoted to the topic – the heart is quite simply a marvel of biology, asked to perform its signature task some 100,000 times a day, circulating 2,000 gallons of fluid daily through 60,000 miles of piping to sustain functions ranging from doing taxes to running marathons – and if well-maintained, it can run for 100 years without breaking down even once.

“The importance of the heart can even be gleaned from the dictionary, which gives the word more than 15 distinct definitions – it can refer to ‘a generous disposition,’ ‘courage or enthusiasm,’ ‘one’s innermost character, feelings, or inclinations,’ or even ‘the essential or most vital part of something,’” Talk Ten Tuesdays Executive Producer and ICD10monitor Publisher Chuck Buck said. “What better way to recognize the importance of the heart by focusing on ways to make it healthier?”

And while pulmonary hypertension may be rare, other types of heart issues are not – 1 in every 3 deaths in the United States is related to cardiovascular disease. What’s more, 1 in 5 adults who died from cardiovascular disease in 2019 were under the age of 65.

The CDC reports that the most common type of heart disease in the U.S. is coronary artery disease (CAD), which affects the blood flow to the heart; decreased blood flow can cause a heart attack. What can make the condition so insidious is that the warning signs can be easy or even impossible to miss. Many times, CAD patients won’t be diagnosed until they’re already in crisis, experiencing a heart attack, heart failure, or an arrhythmia.

At that point, the signs become unmistakable. For a heart attack, symptoms can include chest pain or discomfort, upper back or neck pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea or vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, dizziness, and shortness of breath. For arrhythmia, fluttering feelings in the chest (palpitations) are a telltale sign. And for heart failure, shortness of breath, fatigue, or swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen, or neck veins will often present.

Fortunately, the risk factors for heart disease are likewise unmistakable – and often avoidable. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking are three key ones, and about half of all Americans have at least one. Diabetes, obesity, poor diet, inactivity, and excessive alcohol use can also contribute.

Continue to check back with RACmonitor, ICD10monitor, and their two corresponding broadcasts throughout the month for more on this topic.


Mark Spivey

Mark Spivey is a national correspondent for,, and Auditor Monitor who has been writing and editing material about the federal oversight of American healthcare for more than a decade.

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