Twelve-Year Follow-Up of American Women's Awareness of Cardiovascular Disease Risk and Barriers to Heart Health

L Mosca, H Mochari Greenberger, R. J Dolor, L. K Newby and K. J. Robb

Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, 2010, 3(2), 120-127. DOI: 10.1161/CIRCOUTCOMES.109.915538


Background— Awareness of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk has been linked to taking preventive action in women. The purpose of this study was to assess contemporary awareness of CVD risk and barriers to prevention in a nationally representative sample of women and to evaluate trends since 1997 from similar triennial surveys.

Methods and Results— A standardized survey about awareness of CVD risk was completed in 2009 by 1142 women ≥25 years of age, contacted through random digit dialing oversampled for racial/ethnic minorities, and by 1158 women contacted online. There was a significant increase in the proportion of women aware that CVD is the leading cause of death since 1997 (P for trend=<0.0001). Awareness among telephone participants was greater in 2009 compared with 1997 (54% versus 30%, P<0.0001) but not different from 2006 (57%). In multivariate analysis, African American and Hispanic women were significantly less aware than white women, although the gap has narrowed since 1997. Only 53% of women said they would call 9-1-1 if they thought they were having symptoms of a heart attack. The majority of women cited therapies to prevent CVD that are not evidence-based. Common barriers to prevention were family/caretaking responsibilities (51%) and confusion in the media (42%). Community-level changes women thought would be helpful were access to healthy foods (91%), public recreation facilities (80%), and nutrition information in restaurants (79%).

Conclusions— Awareness of CVD as the leading cause of death among women has nearly doubled since 1997 but is stabilizing and continues to lag in racial/ethnic minorities. Numerous misperceptions and barriers to prevention persist and women strongly favored environmental approaches to facilitate preventive action.

ASCI-ID: 1439-94