Pharmacy U

How do you assess cardiovascular risk in your patients?

Katherine Jiricka, Pharmacy Innovation Pharmacist. Fulcrum Media

Approximately 90 per cent of adult Canadians have at least one major risk factor (dyslipidemia, hypertension, cigarette smoking, sedentary lifestyle, high alcohol intake, obesity, diabetes) for coronary artery disease (CAD).  

By Mike Boivin, B.Sc. Pharm.

Coronary artery disease, also called coronary heart disease (CHD), is caused by atherosclerosis and refers to narrowing of the arteries supplying blood and oxygen to the heart.

Despite reductions of almost 40 per cent in age-specific mortality rate due to CAD in Canada over the past several decades, the condition remains a major cause of death and morbidity in the western hemisphere.  In fact, approximately one in three 40-year-old women risks developing CAD in their lifetime, while a man of 40 has a risk of one in two.

Why CV risk assessment?

Cardiovascular (CV) risk assessment is recommended as a means for primary healthcare providers to identify patients who would be most likely to benefit from primary prevention therapies such as treatment of dyslipidemia or hypertension.

What’s the benefit?

The earlier you can identify individuals at risk the sooner lifestyle, plus or minus pharmacological treatment, may be started.

What’s the latest in CV risk assessment?

Non-invasive skin cholesterol testing—a risk assessment technique that does not require blood draw—has the potential to increase accessibility to preliminary CV risk assessment for patients who are commonly missed through other screening methods.

Communicating CV risk assessment results effectively, through “active listening,” can help motivate patients to take action to modify their lifestyles.