Women are significantly less likely than men to have their LDL cholesterol controlled to recommended levels, according to a new study by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). The study, to be published in the May/June edition of Womens Health Issues, investigated gender differences in cardiovascular disease prevention, treatment and risk factors based on national health care quality data from commercial and Medicare managed care plans. Elevated LDL cholesterol is an important modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease, the leading single cause of death for both women and men.
The study, "Improving the Quality of Care for Cardiovascular Disease: Using National Managed Care Performance Data to Investigate Gender Differences in HEDIS Measures Related to Heart Disease," analyzed data from a national sample of 46 commercial managed care plans and 148 Medicare plans across 11 HEDIS measures of care for cardiovascular conditions and diabetes. The results, controlled for other factors such as age, income and ethnicity, showed equal or better outcomes for women on most dimensions of carewith the notable exception of cholesterol control, where significant disparities existed between men and women.
"This study highlights the importance of not just knowing your health, but also taking an active role in your care," said NCQA President Margaret E. OKane. "The data show that weve got our work cut out for us in terms of raising awareness among both physicians and patients."
"Women must know their risk for heart disease and how to manage it," said Ileana L. Pia, MD, National Go Red For Women Spokesperson and Professor of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. "These study findings show an opportunity to improve patient care for women and a reason to encourage women to consider seriously how to manage their risk factors, such as elevated cholesterol especially the LDL portion of cholesterol. The American Heart Associations Web site, G
Contact: Patricia Beatty-Gonzalez
American Heart Association