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July 26, 1985

Extending the New York Heart Association Classification System

Author Affiliations

Department of Family Practice University of Oklahoma at Tulsa Medical College

JAMA. 1985;254(4):505. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360040055014

To the Editor.—  In 1928, the New York Heart Association began using a classification system for heart disease that described a cardiovascular disease state in terms of etiologic, anatomic, physiologic, and functional (now status and prognosis) components. The system has been widely used. Those who use it only superficially often fail to see how it has any advantage over a simple diagnostic name. But, even when it's not used "by the book," if it's used thoughtfully, it provides an excellent, concise description of the disease state that goes a long way toward organizing problem lists logically—a description far more useful than a simple diagnostic name. I have found the same scheme to be of great use in describing disease states of any organ system, not just the cardiovascular. (I suppose that others have discovered the same thing, but if so, they haven't spread the news very well; hence, this letter.)