Community Pharmacists Can Improve BP Control

African American men in the United States are at greater risk of heart disease and strokes than the general population. A risk factor for these cardiovascular diseases is hypertension, a condition that is often undiagnosed or poorly controlled in African Americans. Access to healthcare services and culturally appropriate health promotion have been identified in the past as barriers to optimum blood pressure control for this minority group in the U.S. This would not be to dissimilar a problem in most of Africa.

Enter this recently published study in the most prestigious medical journal in the world, the New England Journal of Medicine. The study recruited barbershops across the state of California and enrolled over 300 of their patrons. There they provided the barbers with health promotion information to pass on to their patrons. Specialist pharmacists trained to diagnose hypertension and initiate treatment were dispatched to the participating barbershops. The pharmacists screened for hypertension, initiated treatment according to a study protocol and followed up study participants. The pharmacists were specially trained and supervised by physicians.

Read our post on the new hypertension guidelines that have redefined targets and caused controversy

At the conclusion of the study, the results were astounding. More than 60 % of black men diagnosed with hypertension were able to attain a normal blood pressure, significantly more than the control group who didn’t receive the pharmacists’ intervention and follow up. Blood pressure dropped by up to 27 mm Hg on average.

The study concluded:

 ‘Among black male barbershop patrons with uncontrolled hypertension, health promotion by barbers resulted in larger blood-pressure reduction when coupled with medication management in barbershops by specialty-trained pharmacists.’

This study has lent further credence to the power of well-trained pharmacists working in the community. Our own experience with tens of thousands of patients that are managed via our platform has demonstrated the key role pharmacists play in medication adherence. Patients who receive follow up from our participating pharmacies report higher rates of satisfaction and adherence to medication.  For those with chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes, the regular contact and refill reminders ensure they stay up to date with their medications and prevent deadly complications.

This high-quality research presented in the New Englan Journal has shown the power of pharmacists working in the community. As a pharmacist, you should seek to harness this power more fully. Engage your community more via health promotion activities and ensure you educate and follow up your patients whenever you interact with them, whether in your pharmacy or during an outreach. This is proven to be beneficial in hypertension. When you do engage your patient more, BP is better controlled.

Hundreds of pharmacies are already doing this via our Wella Health Engage platform. They use it on their phones and computers to keep records and follow up patients easily and automatically with medication reminders and refill alerts easily. Get in touch today to get started.

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