Women still not completely alert to heart disease risk

March 1, 2010

Minorities?both racial and ethnic?continue to lack recognition that cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the No.1 reason for death in women, even though overall understanding of the disease's rank among death causes has doubled in the last 13 years, a new study shows.

Minorities-both racial and ethnic-still are unaware that cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in women, although overall understanding of the disease’s rank among causes of death has doubled in the last 13 years, a new study from Columbia University Medical Center in New York shows. The study attributes this lack of awareness to numerous misperceptions on the part of the women and to obstacles to CVD prevention.

The standardized study, published in the online edition of Circulation, measured the level of understanding of heart disease risk among 2,300 women aged 25 years and older, as well as the roadblocks to preventing the occurrence of CVD. Trends were assessed using triennial surveys dating to 1997.

Participants polled via telephone were significantly more aware of CVD risk in 2009 than in 1997 (54% vs 30%; P.0001); likewise, they were significantly more aware that CVD was the leading cause of death in women (P≤.0001). Much less informed as to the risk of the disease were black and Hispanic women compared with white women, although the gap is narrowing.

The majority of women cited therapies for CVD prevention that are not evidence based. Reasons precluding CVD prevention included family and caretaker tasks (51%) and lack of clarity in the media (42%). Overall, 91% of women believed that access to healthy foods, recreation (80%), and nutrition data offered in restaurants (79%) would improve CVD prevention within the community.