Background: Despite clear evidence for the efficacy of lowering cholesterol levels, there is a deficiency in its real-world application. There is a need to explore alternative strategies to address this important public health problem. This study aimed to determine the effect of a program of community pharmacist intervention on the process of cholesterol risk management in patients at high risk for cardiovascular events.
Methods: A randomized controlled trial conducted in 54 community pharmacies (1998-2000) included patients at high risk for cardiovascular events (with atherosclerotic disease or diabetes mellitus with another risk factor). Patients randomized to pharmacist intervention received education and a brochure on risk factors, point-of-care cholesterol measurement, referral to their physician, and regular follow-up for 16 weeks. Pharmacists faxed a simple form to the primary care physician identifying risk factors and any suggestions. Usual care patients received the same brochure and general advice only, with minimal follow-up. The primary end point was a composite of performance of a fasting cholesterol panel by the physician or addition or increase in dose of cholesterol-lowering medication.
Results: The external monitoring committee recommended early study termination owing to benefit. Of the 675 patients enrolled, approximately 40% were women, and the average age was 64 years. The primary end point was reached in 57% of intervention patients vs 31% in usual care (odds ratio, 3.0; 95% confidence interval, 2.2-4.1; P<.001).
Conclusions: A community-based intervention program improved the process of cholesterol management in high-risk patients. This program demonstrates the value of community pharmacists working in collaboration with patients and physicians.