Pharmacists help patients lower blood pressure

August 4, 2015

Pharmacists working in healthcare teams were able to better control blood pressure in patients with uncontrolled hypertension, according to a recent study.

Pharmacists working in healthcare teams were able to better control blood pressure in patients with uncontrolled hypertension, according to a recent study.

Published in the July, 2015, issue of the Journal of the American Society of Hypertension, University of Iowa researchers found that care teams with a clinical pharmacist delivered more tailored medication regimens to patients, which yielded more effective blood-pressure control results than for those patients who did not have pharmacist care.

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"We've known for more than 40 years that including pharmacists on medical care teams improved blood pressure control and the management of many chronic conditions," said Barry Carter,  PharmD, professor in Pharmacy and Health Sciences Research at the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy who led the research teams on the two studies.

Barry Carter, PharmD"However, we have had little evidence that such programs could be scaled up and implemented in a large number of diverse medical offices, with wide geographic distribution and serving high numbers of minority populations. This study is the first to address all of these issues and, importantly, demonstrated that subjects from racial and ethnic minority groups had the same degree of blood pressure improvements as the entire population. We also demonstrated, especially in the minority groups, that the effect could be sustained for a full two years after the intervention ended."

For the two studies, University of Iowa researchers enrolled 625 patients from various racial backgrounds with uncontrolled hypertension from 32 medical offices across 15 states. They evaluated how well patients were able to control their blood pressure when getting care from a medical team that included a pharmacist compared to being treated by a physician only.

 

The researchers found that patients who saw a medical team with a clinical pharmacist showed a systolic blood pressure drop of 6.1 mmHg nine months later, compared to those who did not see a clinical pharmacist during the same time. A reduction of that scale would reduce the chances of death by stroke by 23 percent, the researchers wrote.

Notably, patients in the care teams with a clinical pharmacist had their medications adjusted an average of 4.9 times during the nine-month period, of which three instances involved dose increases or added medications, according to the study. Patients who saw physicians only averaged one adjusted medication and less than one instance of dose increases or added medications in the same period.

“Clinical pharmacists were able to contribute to the care team by tailoring blood pressure medications for each patient and spent extra time educating patients on how to decrease their blood pressure,” said Tyler Gums, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy and corresponding author of the study.