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Improved Screenings by Ob-Gyns May Help Detect Heart Problems

Women seen at outpatient ob-gyn clinics largely unaware of heart risks and symptoms; screenings may help

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 5, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Many women seen in outpatient obstetrics-gynecology (ob-gyn) clinics are unaware of their own cardiovascular risk factors and symptoms, according to a study published online July 13 in the Journal of Women’s Health.

Jennifer Yu, M.D., from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, and colleagues surveyed close to 3,000 female patients visiting 16 outpatient ob-gyn clinics across the United States between January 2010 and January 2012 to examine the prevalence and patient awareness of cardiovascular risk factors and symptoms (e.g., angina and dyspnea). The researchers also compared the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors and symptoms among patients with and without a history of adverse pregnancy outcomes.

The researchers found that cardiovascular risks and symptoms were prevalent among the sample, with 86 percent of the participants having a cardiovascular risk factor and 40.1 percent having at least one cardiovascular symptom. Still, awareness of common risk factors and symptoms was low, and 32 percent of participants did not know if they had high cholesterol and close to 18 percent did not know if they had hypertension or diabetes. Nearly 50 percent did not know that their body mass index was in the overweight range. Women with a history of adverse pregnancy outcomes were more likely to have cardiovascular risk factors and symptoms and were slightly more likely to be aware of common risk factors than women with no history of adverse pregnancy outcomes.

“Many of the women were unaware of their cardiovascular risk factors and the importance of additional heart health screening and management,” the authors write. “Improved screening may enhance the early detection of cardiovascular issues in women and aid in the timely delivery of prevention and education among women.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies, including Abbot Vascular, which funded the study.

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