Low Awareness Raises Women’s Cardiovascular Risk

Low Awareness Raises Women’s Cardiovascular RiskLow Awareness Raises Women’s Cardiovascular Risk

Women are putting themselves at risk of heart disease through lack of awareness, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2015.

Heart disease and stroke are the most common causes of death among American women; 1 in 3 women’s deaths are caused by heart disease and stroke in the US every year.

Although heart disease and stroke death rates among men have dropped steadily over the last 25 years, women’s rates have fallen at a much slower rate.

Moreover, 64% of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms, reports

Those who know another woman with heart disease are 25% more likely to be concerned about it for themselves and 19% more likely to bring up heart health with their doctors.

However, most women say they do not have a personal connection to cardiovascular disease.

A team from the Women’s Heart Alliance, led by Dr. C. Noel Bairey Merz, director of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center and professor of medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA, carried out a survey of 1,011 adult women.

They questioned a random sampling of women ages 25-60 in an online survey that took about 15 minutes. Researchers factored out the effects of age, region, race, ethnicity, education and income.

The survey showed that only 27% of women can name a woman in their lives with heart disease and only 11% can name a woman who has died from it. Among those aged 25-49, about 23% know a woman with heart disease, compared with 37% of women aged 50-60.

In addition, it was found that health care providers more often focused on a woman’s weight rather than other cardiovascular disease risk factors, whereas men were more likely to be told that their cholesterol or blood pressure is too high by their doctors.

The results highlight the disconnect most women experience between the widespread nature of women’s heart disease and their personal perceptions.

Merz says: “Awareness of heart disease is crucial. We are stalled on women’s awareness of heart disease, partly because women say they put off going to the doctor until they have lost a few pounds.”

She advised women to be screened for cardiovascular risk, including finding out their atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) score, also called the A-risk score.

Every woman of 40 and over needs to find out their A-risk score, and those under 40 should know their blood pressure and cholesterol levels.