Pharmacists and Heart Failure: Room for Intervention in Every Practice Setting

Heat failure (HF) caused 1 in 9 deaths in the United States in 2009.

Heart failure (HF) caused 1 in 9 deaths in the United States in 2009. Receiving this diagnosis can be deadly (50% of afflicted individuals die within 5 years) unless patients seek care and stay adherent.

A team of researchers from Adelaide, South Australia has published a concise review of the pharmacist's role in HF management. Published in the April 2017 issue of Current Heart Failure Report, it demonstrates how pharmacists can help patients and the multidisciplinary team improve self-care and outcomes in heart failure.

Their review focuses on drug adherence, discharge counseling, medication reconciliation, telephone follow-up, and recommendation from evidence-based medicines. Although these are not the only ways in which pharmacists can help manage HF, they are the most common interventions.

The studies indicate that pharmacists have been able to improve outcomes in medication management, self-care ability, patient satisfaction, and HF knowledge.

Pharmacists have a great effect on early drug adherence, but continued adherence in the later months after diagnosis is crucial. The authors noted that pharmacists need to remain in touch with patients, and sustain their efforts.

The studies report mixed results for readmission rates, a problem that is on every health systems' radar and has been notoriously difficult to address.

The area in which pharmacists have demonstrated the best results is medication management. Their work in medication reconciliation, use of evidence-based medicines, appropriate prescribing, and dose-titration has consistently shown benefit.

Pharmacists who assume a role in HF management can contribute to multidisciplinary-based interventions, and help patients beat the odds, the researchers wrote.


Parajuli DR, Franzon J, McKinnon RA, Shakib S, Clark RA. Role of the pharmacist for improving self-care and outcomes in heart failure. Curr Heart Fail Rep. 2017;14(2):78-86.

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