Pharmacists Proven to Help Hypertension Patients

Patients with uncontrolled hypertension have better blood pressure control when pharmacists are included in their care teams.

Patients with uncontrolled hypertension have better blood pressure control when pharmacists are included in their care teams.

“As health care delivery models are changing, pharmacists are beginning to play a increasingly active role in management of chronic diseases like hypertension,” Alexander Turchin, MD, MS, director of informatics research at Harvard Medical School, previously told Pharmacy Times. “Particularly at this time of shortage in primary care physicians who may not have room in their schedule for a more intensive treatment strategy, pharmacists have an opportunity to step up to provide timely treatment intensification and follow-up to patients with high blood pressure.”

Now, University of Iowa (UI) researchers have confirmed that pharmacists working in care teams with physicians can improve blood pressure control among patients who initially have uncontrolled hypertension.

The researchers examined a cohort of 625 patients with uncontrolled hypertension from several different racial backgrounds and 32 medical facilities across 15 states. The pharmacists in the study were stationed within the medical office and had long-standing relationships with the physicians.

Patients who participated in this physician—pharmacist collaborative management (PPCM) program saw a drop in systolic blood pressure (SBP) of 6.1 mmHg, compared with those who did not see a clinical pharmacist. A reduction of that scale would reduce the odds of death from stroke by 23%, the researchers noted.

Furthermore, patients in the PPCM program had their medications adjusted an average of 4.9 times during a 9-month period, while those who only saw physicians averaged just 1 medication adjustment in that time. Nevertheless, medication adherence did not change significantly in the PPCM group.

“Clinical pharmacists were able to contribute to the care team by tailoring blood pressure medications for each patient and spent extra time educating patients on how to decrease their blood pressure,” concluded corresponding author Tyler Gums, a postdoctoral researcher at the UI College of Pharmacy, in a press release.

UI pharmacy professor Barry Carter claimed that this study was the first to demonstrate how PPCM programs “could be scaled up and implemented in a large number of diverse medical offices, with wide geographic distribution and serving high numbers of minority populations.”

“We’ve known for more than 40 years that including pharmacists on medical care teams improved blood pressure control and the management of many chronic conditions,” he noted in a press release.