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Women's heart risk underestimated by doctors, resulting in less preventive care than in men

NEW YORK CITY, Feb. 1 Women are less likely than men to receive recommendations from their doctors for preventive therapies such as cholesterol-lowering drugs, aspirin therapy and cardiac rehabilitation to protect them against heart attacks and death, according to a study published in today's issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

The treatment gap is the result of doctors' misperception that a woman's risk is lower, even when her actual risk is calculated to be the same as a man, according to the study presented today at The State Of The Heart: Go Red For Women news conference in New York City.

The principal investigator of the study, Lori Mosca, M.D., Ph.D., director of preventive cardiology, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and associate professor of medicine at Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues conducted a national online survey to investigate whether physicians treat women differently than men with respect to cardiovascular disease preventive therapy.

Specifically, the researchers were interested in differences in preventive recommendations for men and women with the same heart risks, and if physicians followed national guidelines. Last year the American Heart Association, in collaboration with two dozen other government and professional organizations, released joint guidelines for cardiac preventive care in women based on a woman's risk level (high, intermediate and lower).

In this study, 500 physicians (100 cardiologists, 100 obstetrician-gynecologists [OBGyns], and 300 primary care physicians [PCPs]) were randomly selected from around the country. Physicians were given patient profiles in which risk levels were the same but the gender of the patients differed. They were asked to make recommendations regarding lifestyle management and drug therapy for blood pressure, cholesterol, aspirin and other forms of preventive care.

Even when a woman's risk was the same as a man's, wom
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Contact: Darcy Spitz
darcy.spitz@heart.org
212-878-5940
American Heart Association
1-Feb-2005


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