Pharmaceutical care in coronary heart disease

Abstract: Background: In coronary heart disease (CHD), pharmaceutical care implies that health care professionals cooperate with the patient to optimize drug therapy primarily for secondary prevention. Low adherence and discontinuation of drugs are common among patients with CHD, and this is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. The achievement of guidelines-recommended treatment goals for risk factors is disappointingly low in secondary prevention.Aim: To study clinical and patient related aspects of pharmaceutical care for secondary prevention in patients with CHD.Method: A pharmacist used medication review and motivational interviewing to impact patients’ beliefs about medicines and adherence in a pilot study. This intervention was further developed and tested in a randomized controlled trial (RCT) in 316 patients with verified CHD who were planned for follow-up at the cardiology clinic in Kalmar. The primary study outcome was the proportion ofpatients who reached the treatment goal for low-density lipoprotein (LDL)cholesterol. Patients’ adherence to cholesterol-lowering drugs according to a combination of refilled prescriptions and self-report was the key secondary outcome. In the RCT, pharmacists individualized both the dose and the content of thesupport based on the patient’s need. A process evaluation was planned alongside the trial to investigate implementation and mechanisms of impact such as pharmacists’ actions and effects on patients’ medication beliefs. In a separate qualitative study, we interviewed patients with CHD who had used their medicines for at least 12 months.Results: At 15 months follow-up of the RCT, the primary outcome measure did not differ between groups. The intervention improved patient adherence to cholesterol-lowering medicines; 88% vs 77% of the patients were adherent, possibly because the intervention lowered patients’ concerns about medicines. In 84% of the intervention patients at least one actual drug-related problem (DRP) was identified, and for 90% of those DRPs actions were taken to resolve the problems. Analyses of the interviews with patients revealed that patients´ experiences with medicines varied greatly - from trivial to troublesome – and these were classified into one of seven categories: a sense of security, unproblematic, learning to live with it, taking responsibility for it, somewhat uncertain, troublesome, or distressing.Conclusion: Pharmaceutical care improved the patients’ use of medicines in CHD but did not increase treatment goal achievement for LDL-cholesterol. Overall, the findings of this thesis emphasize that when support in managing medications is offered to patients, it should encompass various aspects of medicine-taking: safety, knowledge, beliefs, practical handling, impact on day-to-day life, and the patient’s medication experience.