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Australian Journal of Pharmacy : March 2005
the future to improve the heart health of Australians,’ Dr Abernethy said. Women and heart disease The Heart Foundation is finalising results from a survey on the community’s under- standing of CVD. According to Dr Aber- nethy, the preliminary results are star- tling, especially in terms of people’s understanding of women’s risk of CVD. ‘Results from previous surveys have shown that only 25 per cent of women correctly identified heart disease as the leading cause of death for women in Aus- tralia. The most recent survey shows even lower awareness with most people nomi- nating breast cancer as the number one killer,’ Dr Abernethy said. ‘The reality is more than 12,200 Aus- tralian women die from heart disease each year, which is 4.5 times higher than deaths from breast cancer.’ Dr Abernethy added: ‘While breast cancer is a very important health issue for women, we would also like them to recog- nise that heart disease is also a serious health threat. Pharmacists are in a good position to inform women about heart disease and the lifestyle changes they can make to reduce their risk as well as encouraging them to speak to their GP about their heart health.’ Pharmacy CVD projects Pharmacy Cardiovascular Healthcare Model project Pharmacy’s role in helping to identify, prevent and manage both risk factors and CVD will be investigated in a project funded by the Department of Health and Ageing and administered by the Guild as part of the Third Community Pharmacy Agreement. Headed by Professor Greg Peterson, Professor of Pharmacy at the Unit for Medication Outcomes Research and Education, School of Pharmacy, Univer- sity of Tasmania, it is expected to be com- pleted in mid-August. ‘What we are looking at with this national project is essentially collecting information from Australia and overseas. We want to see what community phar- macy has done before in terms of educa- tion to prevent CVD, through to screen- ing of higher-risk individuals and moni- toring the drug therapy and compliance of patients with heart disease,’ Professor Peterson told the AJP. From this it is hoped to develop a col- laborative model as to how community pharmacy in Australia could have a ben- eficial impact on heart disease. Existing programs like Home Medi- cines Reviews (HMRs) and collaborating with professional bodies like the National Heart Foundation of Australia would be investigated as part of the project. ‘For example it might be possible to include a specific cardiovascular medica- tion review as part of the HMRand work- ing within the framework of the National Heart Foundation recommendations which are recognised in the community,’ Professor Peterson said. ‘The Foundation, along with the Car- diac Society of Australia and New Zealand, recently published new guide- lines on how to tackle heart disease in Australia. We know from this document that there is a place where pharmacy can fit to work with other health profession- als and lessen the burden of heart disease in this country.’ The project is largely an information- gathering exercise and a solid review of what is already in place, but would also include input from the public, pharmacy and the medical profession. ‘We want to avoid the sometimes prickly issues that can arise between doc- tors and pharmacists, for example when it was suggested that community phar- macy may become more involved in vac- cination programs.’ The experiences from earlier studies undertaken by the University, including heart disease risk factor screening and cholesterol monitoring and patient edu- cation, would be incorporated into the latest project, Professor Peterson said. The project team includes Jeff Hughes from Curtin University in Western Aus- tralia, Dr Kay Stewart and Professor Roger Nation from the Victorian College of Pharmacy, Professor Shane Scott from Newcastle University and Dr Karen Far- ris, Associate Professor in Clinical and Administrative Pharmacy at the Univer- sity of Iowa. Professor Peterson said Dr Farris has been involved in advanced monitoring of patients through phar- macy in the US and her expertise in this area is an important part of the project. From hospital to community: Multidis- ciplinary ‘Continuity of Care’ model for cardiovasdcular patients involving community pharmacists Another CVD project, investigating the impact of a pharmacist-conducted HMR on hospital patients, is continuing at Syd- ney’s Westmead Hospital. Dr Tim Chen, lecturer in pharmacy practice at the University of Sydney, is heading the randomised comparative trial with Glena Ellitt, which is the first of its type to be conducted at Westmead. Also in the team are fellow University of Sydney researchers Paula Whitehead and Professor Joanne Brien. Ultimately, researchers hope to recruit up to 250 patients in the program, which began in 2003. Dr Chen said that, to date, 150 patients had been recruited to the study and then randomised to receive an HMRearly after discharge (about two-to-four weeks) or late after discharge (about six months). ‘...only 25 per cent of women correctly identified heart disease as the leading cause of death for women in Australia’ ‘We are hoping to discover if applying HMRearly to patients leads to fewer med- ication-related problems and, ultimately, reduced re-admission to hospital,’ Dr Chen said. ‘This continuity of care study differs from others in that we are measuring the specific impact of a pharmacist-con- ducted HMR shortly after discharge. ‘We believe pharmacists can play a piv- otal role in the seamless management of THE AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF PHARMACY VOL.86 MARCH 2005 ? 171