Alberta pharmacists screening for heart attack and stroke

A study is underway to see if Alberta pharmacists can help prevent heart disease.

A new research program at Alberta pharmacies is flagging patients at a high risk of suffering a heart attack and stroke.

“RxEACH” is an Alberta Health Services program in which pharmacists screen patients for vascular diseases and help them manage their risk.

The study was launched one year ago, and divides participants into two groups.

One group receives pharmacist-based care, while the other continues with traditional doctor visits.

“Most people at risk for heart attack and stroke have no symptoms, and don’t realize they’re at risk until they have an event like a heart attack,” said Dr. Brenda Hemmelgarn, who heads the AHS department of Community Health Sciences.

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“Pharmacists can identify high risk patients who might otherwise fall through the cracks.”

Pharmacists are enrolling up to 1,200 patients at 45 participating pharmacies across Alberta.

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These are patients with diabetes, established vascular disease or chronic kidney disease.

Other factors that contribute to a high risk of vascular diseases include high blood pressure,  high cholesterol or blood sugar, as well as smoking.

Five hundred Albertans have been enrolled so far.

Estimates show 90 per cent of Albertans have at least one risk factor for heart disease.

The initiative is part of the Vascular Risk Reduction program and is a partnership with the Cardiovascular Health and Stoke Strategic Clinical Network, Alberta Health, the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta.

Alberta pharmacists are given a more active role in patient care than their counterparts in other provinces, and can prescribe drugs and order laboratory tests.



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