Approximately 86% of women seen at an outpatient OB/GYN clinic had a cardiovascular risk factor, but their awareness of risk factors and symptoms was low, suggests a new study.
In the study that was published online on July 13, 2020 in the Journal of Women’s Health, researchers surveyed 2946 women attending 16 OB/GYN clinics across the US between January 2010 and January 2012.
The main outcome measures were self-reported CV risk factors and symptoms and the mean age of participants was 51 years. Approximately 13% of participants had a history of adverse pregnancy outcomes (APO), which is associated with increased long-term CV risk.
Overall, many women did not know if they had common CV risk factors such as hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, or diabetes (18.4%, 32%, and 17.9%, respectively).
Women who had a history of APO were slightly more likely to be aware of common risk factors vs those who did not have a history of APO, including abnormal blood pressure (18.6% vs 17%), high cholesterol (32% vs 31.7%), and obesity/elevated body mass index (49.7% vs 43.9%).
Also, compared with women with no history of APO, participants with APO were more likely to have CV risk factors (89.5% vs 83.9%, p=0.002) and symptoms (45.5% vs 39.3%, p=0.02).
Authors also concluded that women with no primary care provider (other than their OB/GYN specialist) or with no primary care physician at all demonstrated the lowest levels of awareness, suggesting possible underdiagnosis and undertreatment of CV risk factors.
“We found a need for improved screening, and we demonstrated the feasibility of cardiovascular risk assessment in the setting of our participatory community-based OB/GYN clinics,” concluded authors. “Improved screening may enhance the early detection of cardiovascular issues in women and aid in the timely delivery of prevention and education among women.”