August 09, 2017
2 min read

Awareness of women’s CV health, CVD risk low among patients, physicians

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CVD in women was not identified as a main health concern by women or physicians, possibly due to social stigma related to body weight and inadequate training on guideline recommendations, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

“The findings add knowledge, beliefs and attitudes from community women under 60 years and practicing primary care physicians, OB-GYNs and cardiologists to identify barriers and opportunities to improve [CV] health for women,” C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD, FACC, FAHA, director of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and a Cardiology Today Editorial Board Member, said in an interview.

Researchers analyzed data from 1,011 women aged 25 to 60 years, 200 primary care physicians and 100 cardiologists who completed surveys in 2014.

C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD, FACC, FAHA
C. Noel Bairey Merz

Forty-five percent of women did not know that the leading cause of death in women in the United States is heart disease. Most said they did not know a woman with heart disease who died (89%) or a woman living with the condition (73%). Women who knew of another woman with heart disease were more likely to discuss it with their physician vs. those who did not (58% vs. 39%; P < .0001).

Additionally, 45% of women also reported canceling or postponing an appointment until weight loss occurred. Twenty-six percent of women said they felt that heart disease was “embarrassing,” and 57% were aware that they should make more efforts toward heart health, “but it could be overwhelming at times.”

Only 39% of PCPs identified CVD in women as a top health concern. Among physician respondents, only 42% of cardiologists and 22% of PCPs (P = .0477) said they felt well-prepared to evaluate the risk for CVD in women. Few cardiologists (22%) and PCPs (16%) used all of the American Heart Association guidelines to assess CVD risk.

Most cardiologists (82%) and PCPs (87%) supported the launch of a national campaign to promote CVD health in women.

“Programs, initiatives and campaigns [are needed] to address the identified barriers and take advantage of the opportunities identified, for example, a campaign directed at ‘Knowing a Woman with Heart Disease.’” Bairey Merz told Cardiology Today. – by Darlene Dobkowski

Find a related article here.
Nieca Goldberg, MD, discusses strategies to encourage CV awareness.

Disclosure: Bairey Merz reports no relevant financial disclosures.