Pharmacists Improve Blood Pressure Control in Diabetics

June 21, 2015
Ryan Marotta, Assistant Editor

Pharmacists included in primary care teams improve antihypertensive medication management for patients with type 2 diabetes.

Pharmacists included in primary care teams improve antihypertensive medication management for patients with type 2 diabetes.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association examined pharmacists’ role in controlling blood pressure in type 2 diabetics. Patients in the study’s intervention group received counselling from 2 pharmacists who worked alongside their physicians, while those in the control group did not see a primary care pharmacist.

“The pharmacists involved in the study had very collaborative discussions with the physicians about the patients’ medications and proposed drug treatment options,” stated study co-author Scot H. Simpson, BSP, PharmD, MSc, in a press release. “It was from these discussions that the pharmacists were able to suggest alternative medicines or changes in dosage that contributed to lowering the patient's blood pressure.”

After 1 year, 42% of the 107 patients in the intervention group had at least 1 change in their blood pressure treatment, compared with 26% of the 93 participants in the control group. The addition of a new drug was the most common type of change.

Of note, patients whose blood pressure medication was changed were twice as likely to see an improvement in blood pressure as those whose treatment regimen remained the same.

These findings led the researchers to emphasize the importance of collaboration among health professionals.

The study’s conclusions are also strengthened by previous evidence that demonstrated antihypertensive medication could improve cardiovascular outcomes in type 2 diabetics. Another recent study published in the Journal of Human Hypertension determined that using medication to decrease diabetic patients’ systolic blood pressure to 140 mm Hg or lower resulted in a reduced risk of stroke.

The current research was conducted in Alberta, Canada, where pharmacists presently have the broadest scope of practice in North America. While this study was completed prior to Alberta pharmacists gaining authorized prescribing authority, Dr. Simpson explained that it is ultimately pharmacists’ knowledge and pharmacological expertise that make them an important asset to the health care team.