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J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2011 Jun;20(6):893-900. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2010.2448. Epub 2011 Apr 14.

The DHHS Office on Women's Health Initiative to Improve Women's Heart Health: focus on knowledge and awareness among women with cardiometabolic risk factors.

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  • 1Women's Cardiovascular Program, Division of Cardiology, Center for Women's Health, Columbia University, 622 West 168th Street, New York, NY 10032, USA. evg1@columbia.edu


Abstract Background: The diversity of the U.S. population and disparities in the burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD) require that public health education strategies must target women and racial/ethnic minority groups to reduce their CVD risk factors, particularly in high-risk communities, such as women with the metabolic syndrome (MS).


The data reported here were based on a cross-sectional face-to-face survey of women recruited from four participating sites as part of the national intervention program, Improving, Enhancing and Evaluating Outcomes of Comprehensive Heart Care in High-Risk Women. Measures included baseline characteristics, sociodemographics, CVD related-knowledge and awareness, and Framingham risk score (FRS).


There were 443 of 698 women (63.5%) with one or more risk factors for the MS: non-Hispanic white (NHW), 51.5%; non-Hispanic black (NHB), 21.0%; Hispanic, 22.6%. Greater frequencies of MS occurred among Hispanic women (p<0.0001), those with less than a high school education (70.0%) (p<0.0001), Medicaid recipients (57.8%) (p<0.0001), and urbanites (43.3%) (p<0.001). Fewer participants with MS (62.6%) knew the leading cause of death compared to those without MS (72.1%) (p<0.0001). MS was associated with a lack of knowledge of the composite of knowing the symptoms of a heart attack plus the need to call 911 (odds ratio [OR] 0.41, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.17-0.97, p=0.04).


Current strategies to decrease CVD risk are built on educating the public about traditional factors, including hypertension, smoking, and elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C). An opportunity to broaden the scope for risk reduction among women with cardiometabolic risk derives from the observation that women with the MS have lower knowledge about CVD as the leading cause of death, the symptoms of a heart attack, and the ideal option for managing a CVD emergency.

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