Pharmacists Can Help Reduce Heart Attack Risk

Many people never sit down with a doctor to discuss their risk for a heart attack. Now, a study from Canada—where pharmacists have more latitude than U.S. pharmacists in prescribing drugs—suggests that pharmacists can be effective in helping patients control their heart attack risk factors.

The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Dermatology in June 2016 included 723 people at high risk for a heart attack. Participants were randomly assigned to a control group that received standard care, or to an intervention group in which pharmacists assessed risk factors such as blood pressure and cholesterol, gave health recommendations, updated or wrote new prescriptions if needed, and checked in with patients.

After three months, the risk of having a heart attack or related problem was unchanged in the control group but dropped from approximately 26 percent to about 21 percent among patients in the intervention group—a 21 percent decrease. Participants in the intervention group saw improvements in their LDL, blood pressure, and blood glucose, and a number of people quit smoking.

Although the scope of what pharmacists are allowed to do varies from state to state, the researchers concluded that expanding the use of pharmacists could add “another 450,000 helping hands in the United States and Canada” to aid in reducing heart attacks.

Learn more about what you can do to reduce your risk of coronary artery disease.