Awareness of Heart Disease Risk Still Lacking in Women

Awareness among women has risen since 1997 but is stabilizing and still too low

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Despite some gains in public awareness, almost half of all American women are unaware that heart disease is the leading cause of death in women, according to research published online Feb. 10 in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Lori Mosca, M.D., of the Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues analyzed data from a phone survey of 1,142 women aged 25 years and older and 1,158 women surveyed online. Results were compared to data from similar surveys conducted since 1997.

The researchers found that 54 percent of participants identified heart disease or heart attack as the leading cause of death in women in 2009, compared to 30 percent in 1997. However, the number was not significantly different from 2006. Knowledge of this information has risen substantially among Hispanic and African-American women, but they still were less likely to be aware than Caucasian women. Furthermore, the authors note, only 53 percent reported that they would call 911 if they thought they had signs of a heart attack.

"These data support the success of national educational programs to raise awareness of heart disease risk among women and highlight the need to sustain efforts to raise awareness, particularly among racial/ethnic minorities and young women, in whom the majority of women are unaware," Mosca and colleagues conclude.

One co-author is employed by the American Heart Association and another reported financial relationships with several pharmaceutical companies. The survey was funded with a grant from Macy's Go Red for Women Multicultural Fund.

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