Pharmacist involvement key in heart risk screening

November 3, 2016

Pharmacists’ involvement in cardiovascular risk screening resulted in referrals to physicians for patients who were under-diagnosed.

Pharmacists’ involvement in cardiovascular risk screening resulted in referrals to physicians for patients who were under-diagnosed, a new study found.

Thirty percent of participants in the study were confronted with a cardiovascular risk factor (CVRF) they were previously unaware of, and pharmacists recommended that 45% of all participants contact a physician.

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The Pharmacists College of Lower Austria invited all of its 239 pharmacies to participate in the research, according to a recent Open Heart journal article.

This pharmacy-based approach for cardiovascular risk screening found similar overall prevalence of CVRFs as reported by national surveys, but revealed underdiagnoses, particularly in lower age groups. Participants aged between 25 and 64 years old gained the greatest benefit in terms of a newly diagnosed CVRF.

“An active screening approach at pharmacies might therefore serve as an effective alternative to the public preventive medical examination, particularly in younger age groups,” the authors wrote.   

Between April 2013 and July 2013, 184 pharmacies in Lower Austria enrolled a total of 6,800 participants. Pharmacists measured their body mass index (BMI), blood pressure (BP), total cholesterol, and blood glucose levels. The mean age was 58 and 67.8% of the participants were women.

The prevalence of diabetes mellitus (DM) was 7%, while hypercholesterolemia was identified in 57% of participants. Among fasting individuals, DM was found in 18% of individuals. In addition, 17% of predominantly non-obese participants below the age of 25 had total cholesterol levels above 200 mg/dL.

 

Forty-four percent also had elevated blood pressure; 21% of men and 16% of women had a BMI greater than 30 kg/m2.

Meanwhile, the prevalence of tobacco use was stable (35%) in participants between 18 and 44 years old, and men were somewhat more likely to report smoking compared with women.

“In line with our results, the strategy might serve as an easily accessible alternative to the voluntary public preventive medical examination, undertaken by 13% of adults annually in Austria,” the authors wrote.