Pharmacists have a critical role to play in the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease in broad a range of areas, from contributing to heart health checks and the primary prevention of heart attacks and stroke to managing the integrated care of conditions like atrial fibrillation (AF) and heart failure.
This is according to Cia Connell, Manager for Clinical Evidence at the Heart Foundation, and specialised cardiology pharmacist.
“We know that pharmacists play a significant role counselling patients as to how to use their medications but, also incredibly important, is reviewing the safety of those medicines, providing advice on non-pharmacological therapies, and supporting patients to understand warning signs and symptoms of their heart conditions,” Ms Connell tells Retail Pharmacy.
Wear red day reminds and engages pharmacies
This role was evident in the extent to which pharmacies across Australia supported Heart Research Australia’s Wear Red Day on 14 February. The event helped raise awareness on the prevalence of heart disease and to encourage a dialogue about heart disease and healthy habits.
Heart failure is relevant to Australians as there are about 110,000 Australians living with the condition, with a high readmission rate to hospital, Ms Connell says.
“Patients are returning to hospital frequently and there are 171 admissions every day for heart failure in the country. It’s estimated that it costs the health system about $642 million annually for health services for patients admitted to hospital with heart failure,” she adds.
“So, one of the big issues in today’s clinical care is preventing these readmissions, which happen in community care via pharmacists, nurses and GPs.”
Ms Connell points out that it is well known that medicines are under-prescribed for heart failure and that compliance is poor.
To help pharmacists, the foundation has a link to a fact sheet on the pharmacological management of heart failure with reduced ejection fraction on its website.
It recommends a combination of ACE inhibitor, beta blocker and mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists (MRAs) that can decrease mortality over one to three years by 50 to 60 per cent, “which is amazing and makes a massive difference”, Ms Connell says.
“This treatment is also explained in interactive algorithms in the Heart Foundation’s Smart Heart Guidelines mobile application for health professionals.”
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