December 2014 – Pharmacists with the authority to independently prescribe can significantly improve blood pressure levels in patients with uncontrolled hypertension, according to new research presented at the recent Canadian Cardiovascular Congress in Vancouver. “Hypertension is a leading risk for death and disability. This research provides an opportunity to take a major step forward to prevent premature death and disability through innovative interdisciplinary collaboration, providing care in the places convenient to Canadians,” says Dr. Norm Campbell, Professor of Medicine at the University of Calgary and Chair in Hypertension Prevention and Control for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and the Canadian Institutes for Health Research.
The RxACTION study, the first randomized control trial of independent pharmacist prescribing and funded in part by the Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy’s Innovation Fund, involved 22 pharmacists in Alberta with additional prescribing authority and 248 patients. Patients in the intervention group met once a month with pharmacists, who ordered lab tests and prescribed and adjusted antihypertensive medications as required, based on current Canadian clinical practice guidelines. Pharmacists also educated patients on the disease and adherence to therapy, and supported patients’ efforts to make lifestyle changes.
At the start of the study, the average blood pressure reading was 149.7(systolic)/83.4 (diastolic) mm Hg. After six months, the systolic level decreased by an average of 18.0 mm Hg in the intervention group, compared with a decrease of 11.0 mm Hg in the control group.
“This proves that pharmacist independent prescribing improves the care of patients with hypertension. As the leading cause of preventable death and disability worldwide, this has important public health implications,” says Dr. Ross Tsuyuki, lead researcher and Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) at the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta. If such relationships between pharmacists and hypertension patients are sustained, the number of deaths due to stroke could be reduced by 30% to 50%, he adds.