Study: CV Risk Awareness Low in Women, Screening in OB/GYN Clinics Can Help

July 22, 2020

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.

A new study has found that 86% of women seen at an outpatient obstetrics/gynecology (OB/GYN) clinic had a cardiovascular (CV) risk factor and 40.1% had at least 1 CV symptom, but their awareness of CV risk factors and symptoms was low.

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.”