Abstract 4030: The Disconnect Between Awareness and Self Perception of Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Healthy Women
Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is the leading cause of mortality in women. Recent studies focusing on lack of awareness of CVD in women purposely over-sampled African American and Hispanic subjects. We conducted 2 random digit telephone surveys totaling 600 subjects, predominantly (90%) white women aged 40 − 70 (mean 53) years. Fifty-eight per cent had household incomes over $50,000 and 70% had at least some college experience. Excluding the 3.2% with known CVD, 85.5% of subjects reported having at least 1 or more CV risk factors (RF), with 72.4% reporting multiple RF. However, only 33.5% of women with RF correctly perceived themselves at risk for CVD. Perception of individual CV risk was not influenced by age, race, household income, education, or insurance status. Risk perception improved steadily with the number of RF present (11.3%, 24.2%, 52.6% respectively with 1, 2, or ≥3 RF; p<0.001). A family history of premature CVD (46.1%) and obesity (45.3%) were the most commonly identified RF. Subjects with obesity, family history of CVD, estrogen deficiency (p< 0.001 for all ) and smoking (p=0.03) were less likely to perceive themselves at risk, as compared to those with diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, or hypertension. A similar percentage of women felt that breast or other cancer (BC) was the greatest threat to their health as compared to CVD ( 48.2% vs 45.4%). Women with at least some college education (59.1% vs 43.5%; p < 0.001), household incomes > $50,000 (50.3% vs 39.7%; p= 0.01 ), and whites (47.5% vs 26.7%; p=0.01) were more likely to recognize CVD as a greater threat than BC as compared to women with lower educational or income status and non-whites, respectively.
Conclusion: Lack of perception of CVD risk is prevalent in women even in the face of multiple RF, regardless of race, income or educational status. Although white women of higher educational and income status were more aware of CVD as the greatest health threat to women today, self perception of an individual’s risk was poor across all demographics. More research is needed to bridge this disconnect between CVD awareness and self perception.