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Australian Journal of Pharmacy : March 2005
cardiovascular health medications as patients are discharged from hospital and are well placed to help minimise the chance of drug-related problems, in collaboration with GPs and hospital-based health professionals.’ This trial is also funded as part of the Third Guild Government Agreement. ‘The question remains whether there is a different outcome between patients receiving HMRearlier or later. It is impor- tant to establish the most effective time for starting HMR.’ Dr Chen said. He said up to 50 per cent of patients with heart failure are re-admitted to hos- pital after discharge, and a proportion of these re-admissions are medication related. The new heart disease marker Reports suggesting C-reactive protein (CRP) might be an independent marker of CVD risk were very interesting, and sup- port the fact that atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disease, said Associate Pro- fessor Len Kritharides, head of cardiology at Sydney’s Concord Hospital. However, he said most clinicians were not convinced that it was just as important as cholesterol as a modifiable target risk factor for heart disease. ‘It is true that many people with so- called “normal” cholesterol values can have heart attacks, and other markers such as CRP may help predict some of this risk.’ However, before CRP could be estab- lished as a useful addition to routine screening tests for CVD risk, Professor Kritharides suggested that the precision and reproducibility of CRP assays may need to be improved. ‘We can look forward to seeing evi- dence that lowering CRP by drugs other than statins, which directly modify the inflammatory processes of atherosclerosis, offer new treatment options. Recent stud- ies showing that heart disease patients who were given high doses of statins and achieved a substantial decrease in their cholesterol and CRP levels, reduced their risk of heart attacks substantially, encour- age the lowering cholesterol and further investigating the link between inflamma- tion and CVD.’ Risk of heart disease starts early Children as young as eight have had high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels that could put them at greater risk of heart disease as they move into adulthood. Researchers from the University of Western Australia and the Telethon Chil- drens’ Research Institute have been pro- gressively monitoring 1,500 Perth chil- dren for the past 14 years. The children were observed prior to birth, after birth and with regular health assessments up to the age of eight, with a final assessment to be completed later this year. The CVD arm of the Raine Study, co- ordinated from the School of Medicine and Pharmacology at Royal Perth Hospi- tal, looked at individual health issues, the risk of heart disease and a number of other conditions and how these progress as chil- dren age. The study has confirmed the accelerat- ing problem of obesity and other health problems, like high blood pressure in the very young, according to the head of the research team, Professor Lawrie Beilin. Professor Beilin, pro- fessor of medicine at the university’s School of Medicine and Pharma- cology, said results from more comprehensive data on the eight-year- olds would be released shortly. This examined the metabolic syndrome, a term used to assess the risk of diabetes, high cholesterol, blood pressure and being overweight, and how these can be predicted from infancy onwards. He said diabetic physicians were seeing teenagers developing diabetes normally associated with mid-life diabetes. ‘This is all brought about by changing dietary habits, sitting more and exercising less,’ he said. The message for pharmacy, Professor Beilin said, is that they will see in coming years a greater number of younger people requiring treatment for diabetes or high blood pressure, obesity and cholesterol. ¦ 172 ? THE AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF PHARMACY VOL.86 MARCH 2005 Heartline support a call away T HE Heart Foundation provides a telephone information service called Heartline, which is staffed by professional staff. For the cost of a local call from anywhere in Australia, Heartline offers heart health information to the general community and health professionals, such as pharmacists and pharmacy assistants. Pharmacists can contact or refer customers to Heartline for information on a range of CVD issues, including: risk factors, nutrition, healthy eating, blood pressure, stroke, smoking cessation, exercise and heart surgery. Pharmacies can also contact Heartline to receive 50 free copies of the Heartline referral card to distribute to customers. Ideal for people who are on prescription medication for CVD or those interested in improving their heart health, this wallet- sized card includes the Heartline phone number, operating hours and other relevant information. Heartline is not a diagnostic or emergency service. For diagnosis, callers are referred back to their GP and for emergency care, callers are referred to 000. People inquiring about pharmacological or medication issues are referred back to their GP, pharmacist or the Australian Medicines Hotline. For further information or to receive your free Heartline referral cards, contact Heartline on 1300 362 787. Pharmacists can also download the latest guidelines and information for health professionals by visiting the Heart Foundation Heartsite (www.heartfoundation.com.au).