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Pharmacists can Improve Stroke Patients’ Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

Update Date: Apr 14, 2014 12:06 PM EDT

Patients recovering from a stroke need to adopt healthier lifestyles in order to reduce their risk of another stroke or other health conditions. In a new study, researchers found that stroke patients can benefit greatly if they have pharmacists maintain their medical care. The researchers reported that pharmacists helped reduce patients' blood pressures and low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which is often called the "bad" cholesterol, levels.

In this study, the researchers recruited 279 adults from Edmonton, Alberta in Canada who had suffered from strokes or mini strokes. The sample set was made up of roughly 58 percent men. 60 percent were 65-years-old or older. The participants were divided into two groups. In the experimental group, the patients received care from a pharmacist over the timespan of six months. In the control group, they received care for the same amount of time from a nurse.

Pharmacists and nurses were instructed to teach their patients about lifestyle factors, such as dieting, exercising and smoking. They also monitored the participants' blood pressure and LDL levels. At the beginning of the study, all of the patients did not meet the target blood pressure and LDL levels set by the Canadian Stroke Guidelines. After the study was over, however, both groups of patients had significant improvements. The control group had a 30 percent overall improvement in their numbers while the experimental group had a 43 percent improvement.

"We believe that both approaches hold great promise, not only for patients with stroke or transient ischemic attack but also for all patients with, or at high risk of, vascular disease, and our study provides much-needed information on their comparative effectiveness," the authors concluded.

The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).

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