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Heart Health’s Unsung Hero: Your Neighborhood Pharmacy 

Some adults only see their primary care physician once a year for their annual physical. The 30 percent of older adults who have a prescription (according to an American Geriatrics Society study), however, see their pharmacist, on average, at least once a month. For older adults juggling multiple prescriptions, it might be as high as 35 times a year, according to Jenni Zilka, who oversees field programs and services for an organization called Good Neighbor Pharmacy.

With nearly 67,000 storefronts across the United States, pharmacies are one of the most accessible points
of care in the country. Now, some organizations are harnessing pharmacies to play a larger role in patient health, including preventative education around heart health.

That charge is being led in part by Good Neighbor Pharmacy, which aims to help independent pharmacies provide more community care. At one such pharmacy in Thorndale, Pennsylvania, the owners studied the demographics of their community and found that adults were struggling with diabetes management and cardiovascular challenges. That prompted them to develop programming around these issues, including education materials and services around heart health. Similar initiatives are being replicated around the country to develop preventative and education- al care catered to each community.

“Some of the best conversations pharmacists have with their customers are about simple ways to improve their diet or implement lifestyle changes,” Zilka says. “While seemingly minor, these educational conversations can dramatically improve someone’s well-being and even reduce their risk for further complications.”

For more information on ways you can Go Red this year, visit phillymag.com/gored.