February is Heart Month


By Jenn Bean, RPhT

February is heart month, and not just red valentine hearts.

Did you know that heart disease affects almost 2.4 million Canadian adults annually [1], and is the second leading cause of death in Canada [2].

In Pharmacy we have the advantage that our patients come to us, we don’t need to go out to find them. You already know the patients who are at risk; you probably see them every 1-3 months. Do you know the risk factors of heart disease, and which ones are uncontrollable?

Controllable factors:

  • Smoking
  • Lack of exercise
  • Being overweight or obese
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Stress

Uncontrollable factors:

  • Age
  • Family history

How can I help my patients?

  • Offer smoking cessation options, they might not be interested the first time you ask, but you never know when they may want a lifestyle change, it doesn’t always happen on January 1st.
  • Does your store have a dietician on site? Do you have a store magazine with nutritious and delicious recipes? Sometimes patients aren’t aware these options are available to them until they are pointed out. Do they need an updated copy of the Canada Food Guide? You can find one here.
  • Are your patients compliant with their medication or blood testing? How frequently are they purchasing their blood monitoring supplies? Do they need to invest in a home blood pressure monitor? Patients can use this helpful tool to determine how frequently they should be testing their blood glucose levels.
  • Does your community offer a walking or skating club? Maybe yoga at the community center? Sometimes it’s nice to work out in a group, when there are others who share the same interests as you.
  • While some enjoy a drink to unwind and relax, The BC Partners for Mental Health and Addictions recommends no more than 10 drinks/week, with no more than 2 drinks/day for women and  15 drinks/week with no more than 3/day for men. [3]

While no one can control their age or family history, it’s important to be aware of the controllable factors to ensure that your heart has the best chance at a happy healthy life.

How do you start a conversation with your patients? Please share your tips with your fellow Pharmacy Technicians; you never know whose life you could save!