Knowledge and risk of cardiovascular disease in rural Alabama women

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to describe rural women's knowledge of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and actual risk of CVD. The research question guiding this study was: “Are there relationships between demographic factors, women's knowledge of CVD, and women's CVD risk score?”

Data sources

Demographic data were collected from a convenience sample of 112 women at a full-service, rural medical clinic in Alabama. Two questions assessed women's knowledge of their risk factors for CVD. The Coronary Heart Disease Knowledge Test measured knowledge of coronary heart disease (CHD). Framingham CHD prediction scores were calculated to assess the actual heart disease risk of subjects.

Conclusions

Knowledge of CVD in rural Alabama women is inadequate. The mean score for the knowledge test was 8.50 out of 20. This population of women has significant risk for CVD. Women recognized that smoking and obesity are issues, but are less aware of factors such as race, personality types, oral contraceptive use, hypertension, diabetes, age, hyperlipidemia, and family history.

Implications for practice

The majority of women in the study could list only one or two CVD risk factors. New strategies for educating women about CVD should be explored by nurse practitioners (NPs). For example, NPs interested in CVD in women could organize and offer to teach in local schools, colleges, universities, churches, and at sites where women work. Collaboration with the local American Heart Association and Health Department in educating women may be appropriate. By increasing women's knowledge, their actual risk may change and thus improve their chance to live free of CVD or have it later in life or to a lesser extent.

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