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“Hard-to-reach” patients use pharmacy heart assessment services

Pharmacy-run heart assessment services are being used by hard-to-reach patients, research published online in Pharmacy World and Science (7 October 2009) shows.

These patients, such as men and those from “blue collar communities”, were also more likely to be identified with a moderate-to-high risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD) over 10 years (a 15 per cent or higher absolute risk), the researchers found.

Of the 8,287 patients that accessed the heart assessment service run by a large UK pharmacy chain between August 2004 and April 2006, 65 per cent had a low 10-year CHD risk (less than 15 per cent absolute risk) and 35 per cent had a moderate-to-high risk.

More women (64.5 per cent) then men (35.5 per cent) accessed the service, however, men were more likely to have a moderate-to-high CHD risk with a relative risk ratio of 1.72 (95 per cent confidence interval 1.6–1.82, P<0.001).

The researchers found that the likelihood of a patient being assessed with a moderate-to-high risk of CHD increased with age. In someone aged 60–69 years old, the risk was higher than in someone aged 50–59 years old (1.72, 1.6–1.85; P<0.001).

The researchers also found that patients classified with a socioeconomic category of “prospering suburbs” had less of a CHD risk then those classed as “constrained by circumstances” or “blue collar communities”.

Of the 8,287 patients, pharmacists recommended over-the-counter simvastatin to 50 patients considered at low risk and 41 patients considered at moderate-to-high risk. This, the researchers say, “highlights pharmacists’ ability and willingness to prioritise the provision of the type of information most people need in order to reduce their CHD risk, over and above the sale of a product”.

Lifestyle advice was recorded for an average 55 per cent of participants and was irrespective of age, gender, socioeconomic status or CHD risk.

The researchers say that this evidence proves that community pharmacies can serve as a suitable environment for CHD risk screening services.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 10982243

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