Washington D.C.: Heart disease may be their No. 1 killer, but it is invisible to most American women, according to a new research.
The research, presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2015, stated that most women say they don't have a personal connection to cardiovascular disease.
A 2014 nationally representative survey of 1,011 adult women found that those who know another woman with heart disease are 25 percent more likely to be concerned about it for themselves and 19 percent more likely to bring up heart health with their doctors. The survey was developed and conducted by the Women's Heart Alliance.
Since women who report knowing another woman with heart disease are more apt to express concern and importantly, bring up this issue with their doctor, awareness of heart disease is crucial, said lead author C. Noel Bairey Merz.
Yet, only 27 percent of women can name a woman in their lives with heart disease and only 11 percent can name a woman who has died from heart disease. Among those aged 25 to 49, about 23 percent know a woman with heart disease, compared to 37 percent of women aged 50 to 60.
In addition, the survey found that healthcare providers more often focused on a woman's weight rather than other cardiovascular disease risk factors, compared to men who were more likely to be told their cholesterol or blood pressure is too high by their doctors.
"Women should be screened for heart disease, including finding out their atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) score - also called the "A-risk score," Bairey Merz said, adding this figure uses your age, sex, race, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood pressure medication use, diabetes status and smoking status to get a 10-year cardiovascular disease risk and a lifetime risk score.
Her advice to women: "Talk to your doctor about heart disease. Every woman 40 and older needs to get their A-risk score. If you're under 40 you still need to know your blood pressure and cholesterol."