A study suggests that treating high cholesterol at the pharmacy produces better results than traditional care because patients can see pharmacists more easily.
Pharmacists can play a key role in helping patients lower their low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels and other lipid parameters, according to a study published in the March 2012 issue of Pharmacotherapy.
In the study, researchers from the University of Alberta in Canada used data from 21 previous studies to compare the effect on LDL cholesterol levels and other health outcomes of care by pharmacists and physicians. The results showed that, across the studies analyzed, the average cholesterol level for patients treated by pharmacists was 10.7 mg/dl lower than for those treated by physicians. In addition, patients who received care from pharmacists were more likely to achieve target lipid levels, and pharmacists were twice as likely to recommend a change in patient therapy and more likely to order or recommend a lipid panel.
“This systematic review has provided the highest level of evidence that pharmacists, either alone or as an integral part of a multidisciplinary team, play a key role in improving lipid parameters in patients with dyslipidemia (high cholesterol) across a variety of settings,” the study authors note. “Because of their accessibility, pharmacists are in a distinct position to provide appropriate interaction and/or collaboration with patients and physicians and to ensure successful treatment.”
Pharmacists in the studies provided care in a range of locales, although the majority practiced in clinics, the researchers note. In addition, 11 studies used a collaborative care model, while the other 10 studies included pharmacists who practiced independently.
The results show the benefits of pharmacist care throughout condition management, which could be attributed to the fact that it is more readily available to patients, the researchers note.
“Engaging pharmacists in the care of patients with dyslipidemia could have great public health importance, as pharmacists are the most accessible health care professional; they often see their patients more frequently than physicians do,” the researchers write.
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