Heart Health: Whose Responsibility is It?


In the real world of pharmacy practice, many teachable moments escape in a sea of ever-increasing demands placed on the pharmacist, and not every patient responds positively to friendly encouragement on their choices.

Mike Hennessy

On every cover of Pharmacy Times, we include the phrase, “Practical Information for Today’s Pharmacist.” That is more than just a tagline; it serves as a road map for all of our coverage, both in print and online. Our goal is always to give you, the practicing pharmacist, all the information you need to provide better care for your patients.

December is our Heart Health issue, and though we like to think every issue is important and valuable to your practice of pharmacy, I personally believe that heart health is one area in which pharmacists can have the most significant and positive impact for patients. This is true, in part, because behavioral factors such as diet and exercise and tobacco cessation are huge determinants of avoiding complex and dangerous heart conditions.

Despite all we know about obesity, smoking, and lack of exercise and proper diet, heart conditions are on the rise, and they will continue to increase along with the obesity rate and the aging of the Baby Boomer generation. New research this year has highlighted the risks of heart disease that women face as well. Pharmacists are on the front lines when it comes to dealing with patients who are not only noncompliant with medications, but also reveal lifestyle choices that will ultimately hurt their heart health. As a pharmacist, you interact with patients more often than any health care professional—and that includes physicians. This gives you a unique opportunity to promote and support healthy living. Each of these interactions with a patient is a “teachable moment” that could lead to better choices.

Readers of this column may know by now that I’m a big proponent of the general principles of limited government, entrepreneurship, and individual responsibility. I realize, of course, that in the real world of pharmacy practice, many teachable moments escape in a sea of ever-increasing demands placed on the pharmacist, and not every patient responds positively to friendly encouragement on their choices. Many are simply looking to get their medications and move on. Once outside the pharmacy, your patients still must make thousands of individual decisions that will ultimately impact their heart health.

Yet, for those patients who are receptive to counseling, and for the majority of pharmacists who do actively seek opportunities to improve patients’ lives, the opportunities abound. Pharmacists who successfully integrate patient education with their dispensing role can make such a difference. In recognizing our Next-Generation Pharmacist Award winners in late October, I was reminded again how many of you work so hard to make a difference in patients’ lives.

In this issue, we bring you a valuable selection of articles, resources, and columns that address heart health, including coverage of over-the-counter nutritional supplements and blood pressure monitors, how to keep patients informed about pulmonary arterial hypertension, and the new CPR guidelines that were just issued.

Every positive interaction you have with a patient could be just the trigger he or she needs to think more fully about their lifestyle, diet, and exercise choices. That’s a tremendous power and an awesome responsibility. We’ll continue to provide you with tools and information that hopefully help you make a difference this holiday season and beyond.

Thank you for reading!


Mike Hennessy

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