Objective: To assess the suitability of Australian community pharmacies as cardiovascular disease risk profile screening centres and evaluate whether community pharmacists can play an important role in detecting, educating and referring screened individuals at high risk of cardiovascular disease.
Setting: 14 Australian community pharmacies.
Method: Opportunistic cardiovascular disease risk profiling for members of the public aged greater than 30 years with no existing cardiovascular diseases was performed. All major cardiovascular risk factors were measured. Exercise habits, existing conditions and therapy, and family history were also assessed. The results were used to calculate each subject's 10-year risk of developing cardiovascular events, based on Framingham Risk Equations (New Zealand tables). Each subject's knowledge of cardiovascular risk factors was assessed using a multiple-choice questionnaire. Written educational materials and verbal counselling were provided. Referral to a doctor for further assessment was recommended as appropriate. The screened individuals were followed up via mailed out questionnaire. A random sample of individuals at elevated risk was phoned to assess for outcomes of the screening and referral process.
Main outcome measures: Risk of developing cardiovascular disease and knowledge of cardiovascular risk factors.
Results: A total of 655 individuals (71.4% female) were screened for cardiovascular disease risk factors. Ages ranged from 30 to 90 years (median: 54 years) and 14.2% were smokers. Of the individuals screened, 28.1% had a 10-year risk of developing cardiovascular disease greater than 15%, including 6.9% who had a 10-year risk above 30%. The median calculated 10-year risk of developing cardiovascular disease was 9.5%. Approximately one-third of the individuals had elevated blood pressure, and almost two-thirds were either overweight or obese. The mean total serum cholesterol was 5.31 mmol/l, with 40% of individuals having a level above 5.5 mmol/l and 20% having a high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level below 1.0 mmol/l. There was a statistically significant improvement in the knowledge of cardiovascular disease risk factors at follow-up. Almost half of the contacted high-risk subjects reported lifestyle changes or started drug therapy following re-testing by their general practitioner.
Conclusion: A pharmacy-based cardiovascular disease risk profile screening and education program has the potential to identify and refer many undiagnosed individuals at high risk of cardiovascular events, and help contain the burden of heart disease.