Importance of engaging obstetrician/gynecologists in cardiovascular disease prevention

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Abstract

Purpose of review

To review recent evidence regarding traditional and sex-specific factors identified among women during their reproductive years and their importance in lifetime risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Recent findings

Longitudinal studies demonstrated a woman's burden of risk during her reproductive years is associated with future risk of CVD. Similarly, women with a healthy lifestyle are relatively protected and have the lowest lifetime risk. Some primary prevention strategies, when implemented during this age window, were cost-effective. The link between pregnancy outcome and future CVD risk is now better understood, and evidence now relates pregnancy-associated hypertension and diabetes, as well as a preterm delivery or a low birth weight delivery, to excess risk. Gaps in preventive healthcare for women in this age group included low rates of treatment initiation for hypertension and failure to follow guidelines for diabetes surveillance among women with a history of gestational diabetes. Knowledge gaps for standard CVD prevention, as well as the link between pregnancy complications and future CVD risk, were identified among both primary care providers and obstetrician/gynecologists.

Summary

Traditional and sex-specific risk factors for CVD present during women's reproductive years. Engaging the obstetrician/gynecologist provides a strategy to enhance prevention.

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