Case Study

This month's learning from abroad


"Know your heart values" campaign


Case study from Portugal


Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death in developed countries. Many members of the public are unaware of their own personal risk from heart disease, and even those who are receiving medical attention may not be getting the best results from their treatments.

With very many people visiting community pharmacies every day, there is a great opportunity for disease prevention and for helping patients get the best outcomes.

Pharmacies in Portugal ran a national heart health campaign for a week in May 2010. Supporting materials were developed by the Portuguese Associação Nacional das Farmácias (ANF). Patients who participated had their blood pressure (BP), body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and total cholesterol measured. There were 1,380 pharmacies participating (half of all pharmacies in Portugal), of which 412 pharmacies sent in details of 12,930 patients for analysis.

The main cardiovascular risk factors identified were weight-related (72% had a BMI >25 and the average waist circumference for women was higher than the recommended 88cm). In addition, 37% had BP > 140/90mmHg (and 38% of these were not on any antihypertensive medication).

Of over 5,600 patients who were on antihypertensives, only around half were in control. Mean total cholesterol was 196mg/dl, with 53% above the recommended 190mg/dl. Again, of nearly 4,700 patients on lipid-lowering medication, little more than half were in control.

Pharmacists referred 21% of patients for further investigation by a doctor, of whom almost half were prescribed a new medicine within the follow-up period for the campaign.

The conclusions of this programme were that:

  • Almost half of participants had a high risk of developing a fatal cardiovascular event in the next 10 years
  • There was a high proportion of patients receiving medication for hypertension and/or hyperlipidaemia whose blood pressure and total cholesterol were above target values
  • There were also many patients with blood pressure and total cholesterol above reference values who were not receiving relevant medicines

These findings suggest pharmacists can support the early detection of patients with high blood pressure and/or cholesterol and refer these to a physician for further evaluation.

Know your heart values campaign


Santos R, Ganhoto T, et al. Know your heart values: health campaign in Portuguese pharmacies. Poster presented at FIP annual congress. September 2011; Hyderabad, India.