Emerging concepts in cardiovascular disease risk assessment: Where do women fit in?


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Abstract

Purpose:To highlight the current limitations in the assessment of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk for women. This article will offer the reader information on the current process for assessing CVD risk in women, the pitfalls associated with this current strategy, and the role of novel risk factors.Data sources:Extensive review of the medical literature in the area of women's cardiovascular health.Conclusions:The assessment of CVD risk for women is currently an evolving science. Limitations in the ability of the Framingham score to accurately estimate risk in women from diverse populations are increasingly recognized. Vastly different treatment goals between the genders for similar levels of risk factors have led to a re-evaluation of this strategy in women. While the Framingham score is still useful for guiding cholesterol treatment goals, the current preventive guidelines for women emphasize assessing a woman's risk throughout her lifetime. The future development of tools for improved risk stratification that incorporate novel risk factors may in fact improve our ability to appropriately risk stratify women to evidence-based therapies.Implications for practice:Utilizing the Framingham Risk Assessment Tool and further CVD risk stratification using novel markers such as high sensitivity C-reactive protein, family history, and functional capacity may identify unique subsets of women at higher risk for CVD. Nurse practitioners can be instrumental in this assessment, education, and treatment of women at risk for CVD.

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