U.S. Minority Women Know Less About Heart Disease: Survey

MONDAY, Feb. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Even though they're at greater risk for cardiovascular disease, minority women in the United States know less about this serious health issue than white women, according to an American Heart Association survey released Monday.

Researchers compared the findings of the national survey of 1,000 women to previous survey results dating back to 1997, when the association started its "Go Red for Women" campaign to educate women about heart disease and stroke.

The new survey, published in the January/February issue of the Journal of Women's Health, highlighted several trends:

  • Overall, women's awareness that cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a leading cause of death has almost doubled over the past decade (57 percent vs. 30 percent).
  • The disparity in awareness of heart disease among black and Hispanic women (31 percent and 29 percent, respectively) compared to white women (68 percent) had not changed in the past decade.
  • Women know more about the risks and symptoms of heart disease than of stroke.
  • Many women are unclear about the best ways to prevent CVD, such as the role of aspirin, hormones and supplements in prevention or the best diet for heart health.

Cardiovascular disease, which kills half a million women in a year in the United States, is the leading cause of death among American women. Black women have the highest rate of CVD deaths. Risk factors for heart disease and stroke are more common among women in ethnic minorities and those with lower socioeconomic status.

"Our data indicate that tremendous progress has been made in raising awareness of heart disease in women over the last decade," study co-author Dr. Lori Mosca, director of preventive cardiology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, said in a prepared statement.

"However, we still face the challenge to reduce ethnic disparities and maximize knowledge among all racial and ethnic groups. Because we have previously shown that awareness is linked to preventive action, our data suggest one potential way to reduce disparities in health outcomes in the U.S. is through more targeted efforts to raise awareness among racial and ethnic minorities who are least aware of heart disease and stroke and also at greatest risk," Mosca said.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Feb. 5, 2007

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