ATLANTA -- Patients with progressive heart failure commonly take up to a dozen medications, see numerous physicians in and out of the hospital and often suffer from other disorders. A Duke University Medical Center study shows that the addition of a clinical pharmacist to a multi-disciplinary heart failure team improves the outcomes for these chronically ill patients.
The Duke researchers said the broad use of clinical pharmacists in the management of heart failure appears to save money by reducing the frequency of hospital re-admissions and allows cardiologists more time to devote to the non-pharmaceutical aspects of patient care.
More than 3 million Americans suffer from the debilitating effects of heart failure, with 400,000 new cases diagnosed each year. It is estimated that one-third of the hospital admissions of these patients are due to non-compliance with medication and dietary regimens, the researchers said.
"This is the first randomized trial to measure the effects of a clinical pharmacist in the management of heart failure patients," said clinical pharmacist Wendy Gattis, who has a doctorate in pharmacy. "These patients have a chronic disease that can be managed with appropriate medications, such as ACE inhibitors. Pharmacists can be useful in helping optimize drug therapy for these patients, many of whom are taking as many as a dozen different medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.
"For that reason, in order to make optimal use of these medications, it is essential that we know about all the different interactions between them," she said. "As a clinical pharmacist, we provide this information to the team as well as the patient. We also follow-up with patients, to ensure they aren't having any side effects or adverse reactions."
Duke cardiologist Dr. Christopher O'Connor, a member of the research
team, said he believes the use of clinical pharmacists "will ultimat
Contact: Richard Merritt
Duke University Medical Center