Knowledge, Attitudes, and Beliefs Regarding Cardiovascular Disease in Women: The Women's Heart Alliance

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Background Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number 1 killer of women in the United States, yet few younger women are aware of this fact. CVD campaigns focus little attention on physicians and their roles in assessing risk. Objectives In 2014, the Women's Heart Alliance (WHA) conducted a nationwide survey to determine barriers and opportunities for women and physicians with regard to CVD. Methods From September 18 to 26, 2014, a total of 1,011 U.S. women (age 25 to 60 years) were interviewed using the GfK (“Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung” Knowledge Panel). From May 6 to 12, 2014, the e-Rewards Inc. Physician and Healthcare Professional Panel surveyed 200 primary care physicians (PCPs) and 100 cardiologists. Results Overall, 45% of women were unaware that CVD is the number 1 killer of women; only 11% knew a woman who died from CVD. Overall, 45% of women reported it was common to cancel or postpone a physician appointment until losing weight. CVD was a top concern for only 39% of PCPs, after weight and breast health. A minority of physicians (22% of PCPs and 42% of cardiologists) felt well prepared to assess women's CVD risk and used guidelines infrequently. Conclusions CVD in women was not the top concern for women or physicians. Social stigma particularly regarding body weight appeared to be a barrier. Physicians reported limited training and use of guideline assessment, whereas most supported a campaign and improved physician education. Campaigns should make CVD “real” to U.S. women, countering stereotypes with facts and validated assessments. Both community women and physicians endorsed investment in women's CVD research and physician education.




Bairey Merz, C. N., Andersen, H., Sprague, E., Burns, A., Keida, M., Walsh, M. N., … Robinson, B. (2017). Knowledge, Attitudes, and Beliefs Regarding Cardiovascular Disease in Women: The Women’s Heart Alliance. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 70(2), 123–132.

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