Women's heart disease often undetected, untreated

April 1, 2012

Heart disease among women - the leading cause of death among women in the United States- could be better detected and managed if ob/gyns implemented screening, education, and referral programs, researchers told the 61st Annual Scientific Session of the American College of Cardiology in Chicago, March 24-27.

Heart disease among women-the leading cause of death among women in the United States-could be better detected and managed if ob/gyns implemented screening, education, and referral programs, researchers told the 61st Annual Scientific Session of the American College of Cardiology in Chicago, March 24-27.

As part of a pilot program, 10 ob/gyn clinics screened 1,453 women for cardiovascular disease (CVD) from May 2010 through July 2011. Mean age was 53±11, and 45% of the women were postmenopausal. Hormone replacement therapy was used by 29%; almost 40% had a family history of heart disease and 61% had at least one risk factor for CVD. The women completed brief surveys about traditional and gestational risk factors for CVD and current symptoms. Blood pressure readings were taken from those not previously screened.

Among those screened, 21% reported never having had their blood pressure taken, 38% reported never having had a cholesterol test, and 19% said they had not undergone a blood glucose test-or they could not remember being screened for these cardiovascular risk factors.

"We found a real lack of awareness among many of these women that they had risk factors, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol," senior author Roxana Mehran, MD, said. "Ob/gyn practices have an incredible opportunity to make an impact on heart disease in women by screening, educating, and directing women to the right providers. "Currently, CVD-related mortality among US women aged 35 to 44 is estimated to increase 1% annually.

Yu J, Theodoropoulos K, Mungee S, et al. A novel approach to identify women with cardiovascular risk factors: results from the ob/gyn screening pilot program. Paper presented at: 61st Annual Scientific Session of the American College of Cardiology; March 25, 2012; Chicago, Illinois. Abstract 1183.