Cardiologist calls for cardiovascular screening by chemists
6minutes news, 2012
Pharmacies should step in screen for cardiovascular risk factors in patients who slip through the general practice net, a leading cardiologist says.
Professor Garry Jennings, director of Melbourne’s Baker IDI Diabetes and Heart Institute, says many Australians never visit their doctor and there is scope for them to have their BP, waist circumference and diabetes risk factors checked when visiting the chemist.
“To reach those with undiagnosed modifiable risk factors we need to cast the net beyond the general practice clinic,” he in the MJA Insight this week.
They are trained in health and disease, arguably under-utilised and capable of doing far more than labelling medication boxes.”
Professor Jennings suggests that a trial could compare a pharmacy-based health screening program or a work site program with the present “gold standard” opportunistic GP visits.
A recent campaign by pharmacists in Portugal to encourage customers to have their BP and cholesterol measured in-store found almost half who participated had a high risk of developing a fatal cardiovascular event in the next 10 years, he said.
Therefore, he recommended Australian pharmacists check customers’ BP and measure weight and waist circumferences, targeting the disadvantaged, rural and remote dwellers, migrants, Aboriginals and employed middle-aged blue-collar men.
The AUSDrisk (Australian Diabetes Risk Assessment Tool) could also be used as a validated questionnaire to assess people for undiagnosed diabetes, he says.
However, one of the challenges of such a trial would be not investing a lot of resources in the “worried well,” says Professor Jennings.
Previous evidence has indicated that low reimbursement has hindered the uptake of screening programs in pharmacies.
“The challenge is the time the health professional takes away from other duties in offering the advice and that’s where I think it’s pretty hard to get a fair price out of Government’s basic health budgets,” he said.