Partner With Your Pharmacist to Monitor Heart Health
In honor of American Heart Month, the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) would like to remind the public to talk with their pharmacist regarding available screening and consultative services that could prevent and detect health problems usually associated with heart disease. As part of the healthcare team, pharmacists can play a significant role in the management and prevention of cardiovascular disease.
Cardiovascular disease—including heart disease and stroke—is the leading cause of death in the United States. Every day, 2,200 people die from cardiovascular disease—that's 815,000 Americans each year, or one in every three deaths. Americans also suffer more than two million heart attacks and strokes each year. High cholesterol and high blood pressure are primary contributing cardiovascular health risks. These two conditions combined affect more than 80 million Americans annually.
Many pharmacists offer screenings and prevention and wellness services dedicated to helping patients manage their health and get the most out of their medications. A few "heart healthy" services a pharmacist may provide to help prevent a heart attack, control heart disease and improve knowledge about effective treatment include blood pressure, cholesterol and body mass index (BMI) screenings, smoking cessation, healthy lifestyle counseling and education about medications. To learn more about the specific ways pharmacists can assist in the management of cardiovascular disease, please see APhA's Your Pharmacist and You: Preventing Cardiovascular Disease Fact Sheet. Contact your pharmacist for available services as they may vary by pharmacy location.
Individuals can decrease their risk for developing coronary heart disease by taking steps to prevent and control associated risk factors. A targeted focus should be placed on the "ABCS," which address the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease and can help to prevent heart attacks and strokes.
1. Aspirin: Increase low dose aspirin therapy according to recognized prevention guidelines.
2. Blood pressure: Prevent and control high blood pressure; reduce sodium intake.
3. Cholesterol: Prevent and control high blood cholesterol.
4. Smoking cessation: Increase the number of smokers counseled to quit and referred to State quit lines; increase availability of no or low-cost cessation products.
APhA has partnered with the Million Hearts Initiative in an effort to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes over the next five years. Million Hearts brings together the efforts of the public and private health sectors to improve health across communities and help Americans live longer, healthier, more productive lives.
Pharmacists work with doctors and other health care providers to optimize care, improve medication use and to prevent heart disease. To achieve the best outcomes for their condition, patients should maintain regular visits with all of their health care providers. APhA encourages patients to fill all their prescriptions with one pharmacy, get to know their pharmacist on a first name basis, discuss their medications with their pharmacist, carry an up-to-date medication and vaccination list and share all medical information with each of their health care providers.