Novel approach to HVD detection

Community Pharmacy England has joined other pharmacy bodies to endorse a new report that is encouraging Integrated Care Boards to increase proactive detection of heart valve disease (HVD) with the help of community pharmacy.

The report highlights a proof of concept evaluation that aimed to test if detection of HVD using digital auscultation by a community pharmacist could be an effective entry point to the HVD pathway towards diagnosis and treatment.

The service evaluation, which was developed in Farnborough Primary Care Network (PCN), compared the community pharmacy pathway, over the same time period, with the standard GP auscultation and referral pathway within the same PCN.

Over the period of the service, community pharmacist James Martin, from Chapel Pharmacy, identified 70% more mild or moderate/severe HVD patients (17 vs 10 patients) than the general practices in the PCN. This potentially highlights that community pharmacy could play an important role in proactive detection of HVD, by identifying and referring patients who would not otherwise have been found.

The report shines a light on the high numbers of people with HVD that are left undiagnosed and untreated in England despite HVD detection being an NHS priority listed in the NHS Long Term Plan.

Untreated, HVD has a poor prognosis and a high mortality rate, similar to those of the most common metastatic cancers, yet it receives far less attention. A lack of awareness of HVD’s prevalence is a major reason the condition is currently under-recognised and under-detected.

With outcomes for HVD patients in England lagging significantly behind other European countries, the paper encourages systems to consider the innovative approach of detecting HVD through community pharmacy as a means of making meaningful progress to address HVD.

Read the report – Uncovering the invisible patients with heart valve disease