Hypertension Study

Pharmacist care for patients with hypertension would save Alberta health care system more than $1.5 billion


First study of its kind highlights significant economic impact of pharmacist care in hypertension management


A new study shows that comprehensive long-term pharmacist care for Alberta with hypertension, including patient education and prescribing, improves health outcomes and will save money for the province’s cash-strapped health care system. Projected cost savings would be more than $1.5 billion if full scope pharmacist care were administered to the full eligible population in Alberta.


The peer-reviewed study looked at alternatives to usual hypertension care, including full scope pharmacist care—making full use of pharmacists’ scope of skills, including prescribing. The analysis shows a real and significant benefit from pharmacist care both in terms of cost savings and health benefits when compared to usual care.


“For the first time there is evidence illustrating the significant amount of health care dollars that can be saved by allowing pharmacists to provide full scope of care to Alberta living with hypertension,” said Carlo Marra lead researcher of the study. “While there has long been evidence available for the health benefits of pharmacist care in hypertension management, there has been, until now, a lack of research done on the economic value of this type of care, particularly in Canada.”


In all analyses, the rates for cardiovascular disease and kidney failure are lowest with the full scope of pharmacist care and highest under the usual care regime. The results also highlight the relatively low costs of the program, particularly relative to the costs of treating cardiovascular disease or kidney failure.


“Pharmacists are highly accessible primary health care providers and ideally positioned to address the care gap in hypertension management,” said Jody Shkrobot, President of RxA. “With the infrastructure for these services already in place, we need to ensure pharmacists are able to make use of their full scope of skills in Alberta.


Previous research has shown that systolic blood pressure would be reduced by 18.3 mmHg with full scope pharmacist care. When applied to this study, over 30 years, it is estimated that for every five people receiving full scope pharmacist care, one cardiovascular event (defined as stroke, heart attack, angina and heart failure) would be avoided and four years of life would be saved.


When the full eligible population in Alberta accessing care is considered over 30 years of full scope care, there would be:

  • 13,094 fewer strokes
  • 25,926 fewer heart attacks
  • 7,488 fewer cases of angina
  • 6,863 fewer instance of heart failure
  • 177 fewer instances kidney failure
  • An additional 93,416 years lived


With around 522,000 Albertans living with hypertension, the burden on society is enormous both in health and economic terms. Prevalence in 2015 was reported to be 24% in adults and is expected to rise to 32% by 2030. Being able to improve these numbers even slightly would result in countless lives saved.


The peer-reviewed study, Cost-effectiveness of pharmacist care for managing hypertension in Canada, appears in the Canadian Pharmacists Journal and was authored by Carlo Marra, PharmD, PhD; Karissa Johnston, MSc, PhD; Valerie Santschi, PharmD, PhD;  and Ross T. Tsuyuki, BSc(Pharm), PharmD,MSc, FCSHP, FACC.


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