R.Ph.s can teach patients about metabolic syndrome

May 21, 2007

Study looks at impact of pharmacists on community project about metabolic syndrome and its implications for heart disease.

Pharmacists, as a valuable part of the healthcare team, can impact clinical outcomes by educating patients on their health conditions, disease states, and risk factors. This was the opinion of researchers who recently presented study findings at the American Heart Association's 47th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention in Orlando, Fla. The study focused on the impact of pharmacists on a community outreach screening project about metabolic syndrome.

With the assistance of a grant from the American Heart Association, a group of pharmacists and pharmacy students conducted a study to educate participants employed at a public school in a town near Little Rock, Ark., about metabolic syndrome.

Participants were provided a survey to test their knowledge about metabolic syndrome. "A lot of people do not know about metabolic syndrome. Most of the participants thought they were healthy and that they had no risk factors for heart disease," said Franks. Upon the initial screening, the researchers found that about 31% of the people met the criteria for metabolic syndrome. "Our hope was that if we educated people about their individual risk factors for metabolic syndrome and suggested ways to reduce those risks, we would make a positive impact on heart disease risk in the community," she said.

After four months, 72 participants voluntarily returned to be rescreened. Researchers found that only 18% of the participants-as opposed to the prior 31%-met the criteria for metabolic syndrome. "What we found was that we made an impact on cholesterol and blood pressure, which are the risk factors for heart disease," stated Franks. The participants' total cholesterol was significantly reduced from an average of 197 mg/dL at the initial screening to 189 mg/dL at follow-up. Significant changes were noted among those at the highest risk for heart disease. At the start of the study, 50% of the participants had total cholesterol > 200 mg/dL at the start of the study, but at the four-month mark only 41% met that high-risk criterion.

Average systolic blood pressure was significantly reduced from 123 mmHg at the initial screening to 117 mmHg at follow-up; diastolic blood pressure dropped from 79 mmHg to 72 mmHg. At the start of the study, 23% of the participants had a systolic blood pressure >140 mmHg, compared with 14% after four months. Diastolic blood pressure >90 mmHg was seen in 26% of the participants at the initial screening period and in only 7% of the participants at the four-month follow-up.