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Cholesterol checking in a community pharmacy is an important service that benefits both health care professionals and patients alike.

It could be offered as a private service or one that could potentially be commissioned by the local CCG.

There is an ongoing need for easy access cholesterol testing where patients can self-refer, and tests and results are quick and convenient. Cholesterol checking can be performed quickly and easily using the finger-prick method and for some patients this may well be preferred to having a venous sample taken.

This service could be used by patients who want to monitor their levels if they already have heart disease and are taking cholesterol lowering drugs.

A cholesterol check would also be recommended for patients who have not had a test before and are over 40, overweight, or have a family history of high cholesterol or heart problems.

However, the community pharmacy is also where health care professionals could signpost those patients who request a test when it is not necessarily indicated.

With patients being able to self-refer to a community pharmacy, this would reduce NHS appointments:

  • GP (when patients currently discuss their request for a test)
  • Practice Nurse/Phlebotomist (when patients currently have their test performed)

Pharmacists can also offer calculating a patient’s risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years by taking a patient’s blood pressure, height, weight, age, sex and ethnicity alongside their cholesterol result.

NB. These tests would not be a substitute for a patient consulting their GP, particularly if they have symptoms, but the community pharmacist would be able to disclose the cholesterol results and advise GP follow-up when necessary.

Written by Jane Charman, Wednesday 16th October 2019

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