Community pharmacists are expected to play an essential role in a new campaign to help identify and treat people in England with undetected atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, the major causes of cardiovascular disease.
High Street pharmacies are in a prime position to offer opportunistic pulse or blood pressure testing to identify those most at risk from these conditions, according to guidance published by Public Health England (PHE) on 14 February 2019.
The guidance is at the heart of a national coalition of 40 organisations, led by PHE and NHS England, which aims to reduce the number of heart attacks and strokes by 150,000 in 10 years.
The coalition plans to introduce a whole-systems approach to help achieve the target, which was first unveiled in the government’s ‘NHS Long-Term Plan’.
The campaign hopes to reach the estimated 23% of people currently living with high blood pressure who are still undiagnosed, and to ensure that 75% of people aged 40–74 years have received a formal cardiovascular risk health check and had their cholesterol levels recorded.
The campaign also wants to increase the proportion of people aged 40–74 years at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease who are treated with statins from 35% to 45%.
The campaign was welcomed by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC).
Alastair Buxton, director of NHS services for the PSNC, said: “Many community pharmacies already play an important role in identifying people with undiagnosed cardiovascular disease, via locally commissioned services such as hypertension and arterial fibrillation screening and the NHS Health Check.
“We want to see more commissioning of this type of service so that community pharmacy teams can play a full part in realising PHE and NHS England’s national ambitions.”