Subjective Versus Objective Estimated Cardiovascular Disease Risk and Adherence to Physical Activity in African American Women

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Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death for African American (AA) women in the United States. Despite high prevalence of CVD risk factors, AA women perceive their CVD risk as low.


Our objectives were to (1) identify relationships between subjective (self-reported perceived) CVD risk and objective CVD risk estimated by the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association atherosclerotic CVD (ASCVD) risk estimator, (2) identify demographic and psychosocial factors associated with subjective perceived risk and discrepancy with objective estimated CVD risk, and (3) determine whether subjective perceived CVD risk was associated with physical activity (PA) adherence.


This was a secondary data analysis of data collected from a 12-month lifestyle PA intervention conducted with 281 AA women. Subjective perceived CVD risk was measured by 1 question; objective estimated CVD risk was calculated using the ASCVD score. Women were categorized by congruence or discrepancy between subjective perceived and objective estimated CVD risk.


Subjective perceived CVD risk and objective ASCVD risk scores were both low. Approximately 20% subjectively perceived their risk as lower than objective ASCVD scores. Atherosclerotic CVD risk discrepancy groups differed by depressed mood symptoms. Participants reported many perceived barriers to PA. Perceived CVD risk was not related to PA adherence.


The significance of associated CVD risk factors may be underestimated by AA women, leading to discrepancy between subjective and objective risk estimates. Research is needed to clarify relationships among perceived risk, estimated risk using risk calculators such as ASCVD, and health behavior.

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