To save money and lives, involve pharmacists in cardiovascular disease prevention efforts, group says

The Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) released a recommendation that the health care system incorporate tailored pharmacy-based interventions for cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention into overall prevention efforts. Interventions delivered by community and health-system pharmacists is cost-effective and keeps patients adherent to their medication regimen, CPSTF found.

CPSTF was established in 1996 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to find population health interventions to save lives and improve longevity and quality of life.

The group conducted a systematic review of 48 studies and concluded that pharmacist-delivered interventions increase the proportion of patients who take their medications as prescribed.

The tailored pharmacy-based interventions aimed to help patients who are at risk for CVD to take their medications as prescribed.

Interventions included the use of interviews or assessment tools to identify adherence barriers. To overcome these barriers, pharmacists then developed and delivered tailored guidance based on the assessment results.

Guidance included the use of focused medication counseling or motivational interview sessions, and associated services included patient tools such as pillboxes, medication cards and calendars, medication refill synchronization, enhanced follow-up, communication between the pharmacist and the patient’s primary care provider, and patient education materials. The interventions were effective in both community and health-system settings and could be used alone or as part of a broader effort to reduce CVD risk.

In its analysis of the studies, CPSTF found that the proportion of patients exposed to pharmacist-delivered interventions who were considered adherent increased by a median of 6.9 percentage points—an increase of 15.8%. Based on a subset of 13 studies, there was a median increase of 13.9 percentage points in the proportion of patients who received pharmacist-delivered interventions who achieved blood pressure control.

CPSTF also found these interventions are cost-effective for CVD prevention. Patients taking their blood pressure medication as prescribed is associated with 45% greater odds of controlling their blood pressure compared with not taking the medications properly. Improvements in blood pressure control may decrease the burden of heart disease and stroke. Patients with high cholesterol who do not adhere to their medications have a 26% greater likelihood of a cardiovascular-related hospitalization compared with patients who adhere to their prescriptions.

According to CDC, approximately 630,000 Americans die from cardiovascular disease annually.