Involving pharmacists in care decisions may reduce risk of cardiovascular disease

North American pharmacists can do so much more than dispense prescriptions—including consult physicians and adjust doses—and researchers say their participation in care decisions mean better outcomes for patients, like lower risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD).

North American pharmacists can do so much more than dispense prescriptions—including consult physicians and adjust doses—and researchers say their participation in care decisions mean better outcomes for patients, like lower risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Their recent study of 723 patients in Alberta, Canada, serves as an example. Some participants were randomly assigned to a 3-month intervention that included a medication therapy management review by their pharmacist along with a CVD risk assessment, tailored education protocol, and treatment recommendations; while other participants were randomized to a placebo group. Risk for CVD declined 21% in the intervention patients, who also experienced significant drops in LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, HbA1c levels, and smoking status. "Because pharmacists are highly accessible primary health care providers, this could have major public health implications in reducing the burden of [CVD] if these practices were widely adopted," the researchers concluded. They emphasized, however, that the health benefits were achieved in addition to—not in lieu of—physician care.