Improving Heart Health Should Be Simple, Right?


Early preventive action is key for patients in terms of heart health, and it allows pharmacists to play an important role in disease management.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans are affected by heart disease each year. According to recent statistics from the American Heart Association (AHA;, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, killing more than 375,000 Americans each year; that’s 1 in 7 deaths. In fact, cardiovascular diseases claim more lives than all forms of cancer combined. The direct and indirect costs of cardiovascular diseases and stroke total more than $320.1 billion, which includes health expenditures and lost productivity. I could go on with daunting statistics, but the message is already clear: Americans need to do more to improve their cardiovascular health.

Early preventive action is key for patients in terms of heart health. Plus, it allows pharmacists to play an important role in disease management. A recent study by Walgreens Health Services and Outcomes Research and IMS Health shows the impact pharmacy interventions can have on patient health. Over a 6-month period, patients starting new medications were evaluated across 16 drug classes, and the difference in outcomes between patients who received pharmacy interventions at Walgreens and a control group of matched non- Walgreens control patients was analyzed. The interventions included pharmacist consultations (face-toface and by phone) and reminders for prescription refills and pickup by automated calls, text messages, and e-mail. Benefits for the group that received pharmacy interventions included 3% greater medication adherence, nearly 2% lower hospital admissions, nearly 3% fewer emergency room visits, and cost savings of 3% per patient.

To help maximize the impact of pharmacists, this Heart Health issue provides articles such as “Supplements for Cardiovascular Health: Navigating Crowded Shelves,” “The Dangers of Sitting: Stand Up for Health,” and “Acute Coronary Syndrome.” In addition, check out our regular online coverage at our Cardiovascular Health Resource Center.

Ultimately, however, the responsibility for improving heart health lies with the individual. AHA research shows that individuals who meet the criteria for 3 or 4 of its Life’s Simple 7 measures cut their risk of heartrelated death by more than half. Here are Life’s Simple 7:

  • Get active
  • Control cholesterol
  • Eat better
  • Manage blood pressure
  • Lose weight
  • Reduce blood sugar
  • Stop smoking

These measures may be easier said than done, but making the effort and encouraging others are necessary for improving the health and productivity of individuals and our nation. With cardiovascular disease being the top health issue in the United States, our collective effort toward improving heart health can have a huge positive impact. We should all resolve to make heart health one of our top priorities for 2016.

In this final issue of the year, we would like to take the opportunity to wish you and your families a very happy and healthy New Year! Please know that Pharmacy Times is here to help you excel in all your endeavors as we celebrate 119 years of publication and begin the New Year.

Thank you for reading!

Mike Hennessy

Chairman and CEO

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