Abstract 10120: Go Red for Women Cardiovascular Health Screening Evaluation: The Dichotomy Between Awareness and Perception of Cardiovascular Risk in the Community
Background: Cardiovascular (CV) disease remains the leading cause of death in American women and affects more than one in three in the United States. Research shows that women are becoming more aware of their existing and potential CV disease burden as well as the preventive actions to reduce CV risk. However, there remains a dichotomy between awareness and perceived risk. We sought to further characterize this awareness gap in women attracted to an annual CV health screening and educational event in order to improve strategies to increase CV health and reduce risk.
Methods: During an annual CV health screening event in Rochester, Minnesota, 294 women were surveyed over four years. Surveys collected detailed information from participants regarding knowledge of CV disease, their CV risk factors, and their perceived risk. Biochemical (lipids, glucose), morphometric (BMI) and hemodynamic (BP) measurements were also obtained. Levels of risk were determined from the recently published 2011 American Heart Association Effectiveness-Based Guidelines for Women.
Results: Ninety eight percent of the participants were white and the average age was 52 years (SD 15.3 years). The majority of the participants were aware that CV disease is the leading cause of death among women (99.3%), while just over half (53.1%) perceived themselves to be at risk for heart disease. However, 84% were determined to be “at risk” for CV disease, while 16% were “high risk”. Of those “at risk” and “high risk,” 48% and 20%, respectively, did not perceive themselves to be at any risk of developing heart disease.
Conclusions: Women attracted to a health screening event are aware that CV disease is the leading cause of death among women. However, the magnitude of this awareness does not translate into a perception of personal risk or an understanding of the degree of actual risk. In order to reduce the rate of CV disease in women, continued efforts are needed to focus on and personalize the importance of CV risk factors, so women may take concrete steps to improve their individual CV outcomes.
- © 2011 by American Heart Association, Inc.