Husbands, children, friends, work. Ask the women who are members of the Pharmacist Mom group on Facebook, and the chances are pretty good that you will hear those things noted as some of the top priorities in their, and a lot of women’s, lives. What often suffers because of these competing priorities, unfortunately, is their own health.
Although some 83% of women report having a primary care physician, many report not getting regular checkups. These statistics paint a bleak picture, but there is a lot that pharmacists can do to make an impact on their health, particularly as it relates to one of the top killers of women: cardiovascular disease (CVD). Results from a study presented just last month at Heart Failure 2019, a scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology, demonstrated that patients who visited the pharmacist once a week adhered better to their medications.1
The study investigators noted that the proportion of study patients, 38% of whom were women, who were adherent to their drug regimens increased from 44% to 86% in the pharmacy group and from 42% to 68% in the usual care group. Patients in the pharmacy group were 3 times more likely to become adherent compared with the usual care group.
Although it is unlikely that patients will be visiting pharmacists on a weekly basis, it has been demonstrated time and again that pharmacists can play an integral role in boosting drug adherence rates and in improving the health of their patients overall.
As one of our regular authors, Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, points out in the “Patient Focus” column this month, “Pharmacists can provide important education to patients in community and hospital practice settings. Educating other health care professionals and patients about heart attack symptoms unique to women will help raise awareness throughout the community.”
In her article Gershman offers some pearls for advising female patients about the risks of CVD that are unique to women, including “early menopause, eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia,” among others. She also offers some advice for the pharmacy community about becoming advocates for patients to become enrolled in more clinical trials around CVD and women specifically.
In addition to this article, there is a range of subjects on women’s health in this issue of Pharmacy Times®, including postpartum depression, women’s supplements, dyspareunia, and bacterial vaginosis.
Thank you for reading!
Schulz M. Pharmacy-based interdisciplinary intervention for patients with chronic heart failure: results of the PHARM-CHF randomized controlled trial [published online May 25, 2019]. Eur J Heart Fail. doi: 10.1002/ejhf.1503.