Pharmacist-led interventions may help prevent cardiovascular disease

Bottle of pills with the lid off.

Pharmacists based in GP practices can play an integral role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, finds new research led by the University of Birmingham.

The study findings, published today in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, support the involvement of pharmacists as healthcare providers in managing patients with hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol.

Pharmacist-led interventions such as patient education, medication review, and medication management can be pivotal in preventing heart-related illnesses, the researchers conclude.

Led by researchers at the University of Birmingham’s School of Pharmacy and Institute of Applied Health Research, the team assessed medical literature for relevant randomised controlled clinical trials assessing the effectiveness of pharmacists-led interventions delivered in the general practice in reducing the medical risk factors of cardiovascular events.

They identified 21 trials involving a total 8,933 patients. Pharmacist-led interventions included patient education, medication review and counselling, physical assessment, assessing adherence, lifestyle modification, and medication management such as prescribing, adjusting, monitoring, and administering therapy, and identifying drug-related problems. The most frequently used pharmacist-led interventions were medication review and medication management.

Patients receiving pharmacist-led interventions experienced significant reductions in their systolic blood pressure (by an average of -9.33 mmHg); Hemoglobin A1c, a measure of blood sugar levels (by an average of -0.76%); and LDL-cholesterol (by an average of -15.19 mg/dl). Pharmacist-led interventions also helped patients correctly follow their prescribed medication regimens.

Abdullah Alshehri, of the University of Birmingham, said: “The evidence presented in this review provides an important message to health systems and policy makers regarding the effectiveness of general practice–based pharmacists’ interventions.

“The significant reductions in blood pressure, blood glucose, and blood cholesterol reported in this meta-analysis, if sustained in clinical practice, could have significant implications for managing hypertension, diabetes and dyslipidaemia that could prevent cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.”

Alshehri noted that the findings support a greater involvement of pharmacists in general practice.

“This will benefit health organisations by providing cost-effective care associated with greater control of patients’ conditions and their medications,” he said.

Notes to editors:

  • Journalists can arrange an interview with the author by contacting Emma McKinney, Media Relations & Communications Manager in the University of Birmingham Press Office, +44 (0)121 414 6681.  
  • Alshehri et al (2019). ‘Impact of the Pharmacist-Led Intervention on the Control of Medical Cardiovascular Risk Factors for the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in General Practice: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.’ British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. Published Online: November 28, 2019.
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