You see a lot of appreciation for hearts on Valentine’s Day, but we must remember to be kind to our hearts every day this February in observation of American Heart Month. You can join the mission to spread awareness and save lives, both by taking care of your own health and through your important role in community pharmacy.
Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death in the United States, with someone dying from cardiovascular disease every 37 seconds. Early action and preventive lifestyle changes are vital for protecting your loved ones and your community. You can also help spread awareness by participating in National Wear Red Day this Friday, February 7th. Encourage your team to join and use these posters & stickers to get others to show support as well.
The role of the community pharmacist is critical in fighting heart disease. Organizations such as Million Hearts specifically target pharmacists and even provide direct instructional materials for protecting patients. You have a unique and powerful opportunity to make a real change in your own community.
The CDC defines some common risk factors of heart disease that are important to keep an eye on and educate your patients about:
- High blood pressure
- High blood cholesterol
- Physical inactivity
- Unhealthy diet
Make it accessible for patients to get screenings for indicators such as blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and body mass index (BMI). Advise your patients on the ways they can start making healthy lifestyle changes that will improve their overall quality of life. Start with some simple tips such as reducing sodium intake and finding ways to stay active. Research what events may already be going on in your community, such as a heart walk.
If your patients do require medication to control their risk factors, it is important that they actively take it as prescribed. As their pharmacist, you can provide them with the proper tools and counseling to manage their medication adherence. You may also consider collaborating with physicians in your community to team up in improving patient outcomes.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has provided toolkits with pre-made social shares, graphics, and informative fact sheets that you can use to spread the word online and in your pharmacy. Check out these great available resources:
And don’t forget to wear red this Friday!