UAMS Pharmacists Find Simple Screenings Help Reduce Risk for Heart Disease, Diabetes

By todd

LITTLE ROCK – Amy M. Franks, Pharm.D., and other researchers at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Pharmacy, have found that simple screening tests help reduce risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.


Franks will present the research findings as a featured participant at the American Heart Association’s 47th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention in Orlando, Fla., because of her success working with Sheridan School District employees. T. Scott Warmack, Pharm.D., and Donna S. West, Ph.D., in the UAMS College of Pharmacy, co-authored the study.


The UAMS pharmacy researchers screened 112 school district employees for metabolic syndrome, a cluster of cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk factors including excess waist circumference, high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and high fasting glucose levels. The presence of three or more of the factors increases a person’s risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.


Participants were educated about metabolic syndrome and received individual counseling about their coronary heart disease risk. Franks and others from the college returned four months later for follow-up screening and found that many had taken steps to lower their risk factors for heart disease.


The purpose of our study was to educate people about the metabolic syndrome, because it is not a term used often in the lay public,” said Franks, lead author of the study and assistant professor in the College of Pharmacy. “Our hope was that if we educated people about their individual risks for metabolic syndrome and suggested ways to reduce those risks, we would make a positive impact on heart disease risk in the community.”


About 30 percent of participants had metabolic syndrome, but when Franks returned four months later, only 18 percent met the criteria for metabolic syndrome. 

The participants significantly reduced blood pressure and total cholesterol during the four months.


The participants made those risk factor improvements using drug therapy, such as taking blood pressure medicine. The follow-up screening found that an additional 7 percent of participants were on medications to combat high blood pressure and an additional 12 percent started taking medicine to lower triglycerides.


The researchers concluded that health care providers can help combat the components that make up the metabolic syndrome by educating patients about the disease and drug therapy available as well as making lifestyle recommendations, Franks said.


The study was funded by the Heart and Stroke Community Development Fund, American Heart Association Heartland Affiliate. A video news release about Franks’ research can be found at: Video News Releases on the American Heart Association’s Web site.


UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, six centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has about 2,430 students and 715 medical residents. It is one of the state’s largest public employers with about 9,400 employees, including nearly 1,000 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $5 billion a year. For more information, visit